With the centenary of the start of the First World War fast approaching, the publication of Newlyn-based author Colin Bacon's novel Spibey is well-timed, writes Frank Ruhrmund.
Born in Nottingham, he lived and worked for a time in France, before moving to Cornwall. A teacher, who left the profession to devote time and energy to writing, his first novel, Trout, was published in 2005, followed in 2010 by his acclaimed Vivian And I, a biography of the "real Withnail", Vivian Mackerrell.
Now, with his third book, Spibey, Bacon has used the memories of stories his late mother told him about their family, plus the bits and pieces he was to find among her possessions, as a springboard for his imagination in creating the Spibey family and all that happens to them during the summer of 1916.
Following the fates of the two sons, Thomas and Albert, and daughter Ellie, of the unfortunate Grace, whose grandfather's fondness for cards brought about her family's downfall, and her husband William Spibey, who accepted the King's shilling as he felt the army offered a better standard of life than did that of a farm labourer, Bacon captures the sense of period, the awful uncertainty of the age, extremely well.
He is especially good at conveying a feeling of the ways in which the lives of people and the places in which they lived during the war years, were to alter and how nothing would ever be the same again.
From the Easter Rising in Dublin to the Western Front, the gradual improvement in the status of women in society to the complicated love lives of his leading characters, and from the prevailing class system to the wholesale death and destruction this is gripping stuff.
A war story with a difference, a moving, heartfelt tale of a family caught up in events over which they have little or no control, Colin Bacon's Spibey is published by Quarter Books at £10.99.