Author: Elin Gregory
Publisher: Manifold Press
Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.
Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?
Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.
Review: Right off the top I’ll state that every book by Elin Gregory has been a winner in my eyes – The Bones of Our Fathers is no exception. She has woven a captivating story rich with human spirit, in which the colorful characters and their proud heritage meld as naturally as the rolling fields do with the sky.
Vibrant local flavor, as well as the museum/archeological aspects, are topics Elin Gregory is quite familiar with as well as things I have genuine interest in, so I couldn’t wait to dive into this one. This story is set in Pemberland, a small English town located near the Welsh border. Residents boast many generations of locals, a network of “everybody knows everybody,” and a museum that could do with some TLC. Enter Mal Bright, a young curator and archeologist who is new to town, having been charged with seeing the newly christened Centre for Heritage and Culture live up to its name. Mal is also on hand to be called in should a nearby new housing development/road widening unearth any artifacts. Though not really looking for it, Mal could also use some TLC. When he first encounters Rob Escley – the strapping excavator operator – at the development site, the man makes no bones about taking an interest in Mal.
This story has such a feel of… ease to it. The writing flowed seemingly effortlessly as I was immersed in Mal’s world. The reader meets his co-workers, townspeople, and the town itself as Mal moves through his early days in Pemberland. Nothing is made to sound like a travel log or a glom of information; rather, the story unfurls as a gentle yet thorough immersion in the locality. I could see it all as clearly as if I were actually there. The centuries-old family histories, architecture, pubs, food and traditions are in the blood of the people. The countryside is valued, but also is the need for modernization, if younger generations are to be inclined to stay. This dichotomy becomes an issue when an extraordinary archeological find is indeed uncovered by Rob while digging is underway for the new road project. I don’t want to give specifics away, but let’s say that this partial quote: “The bones of our fathers cannot lie…” takes on quite a double meaning pertaining to The Find.
Mal’s first formal introduction to Rob flourished into a solid, satisfying relationship. Both of these men were easy for me to love. Their vastly different backgrounds seemed a non-issue. They each had baggage, they each had faults, but none of these were things the men wore on their sleeves. They both appeared unassuming, at ease, and caring. And I should mention – daring. Don’t think I’ve heard of getting busy in THAT location before! I do want to mention, even with nary an explicit sex scene to be found, the playfulness, attraction, and love between Mal and Rob is conveyed in crystal clear fashion. Mal believes he has been accepted well by the community, made a good impression – and indeed he has – but has he truly assimilated? This question becomes painfully evident as big money, big egos, and the British Museum swoop in to try and undermine Mal’s intentions for The Find. Mal must do his best to preserve The Find and secure it for the Heritage Centre, but will his best be good enough – for The Find, for Pemberland, for Rob? I so appreciate how surprising a big turning point in the story was, and that it was just as surprising for Mal. He quite plausibly didn’t handle it – or the fallout – well. I’m not sure who was more gutted, Mal or myself! Indeed this shake up in the story led to some jaw dropping revelations which I found to be brilliantly clever on the part of the author. I love being surprised as I was here. Mal and Rob achieved some self-realizations too.
The secondary characters in this story are extremely vital and delightful; I hesitate to call them secondary, as every one of them has a hand in the outcome of what happens to each other and to The Find, as well as what happens to Mal & Rob. It does indeed take a village.
I want everyone to read this story. Where goodness intersects with greed and grief. Where the past helps mold the future. It is a beautifully written encompassing of humanity – from the wonders of The Find, to the old and new Pemberland, to the families, the friends, the lovers…the individuals.