"Companion to Owls" is the story of a 17th century Huguenot family who settle in the Fens. The warmth and the harshness of life in their small community is tied to the task of draining flooded lands and the desire to live good lives.
The arrival of Scottish prisoners of war interrupts the steady routine of the Deschamps family and Jenne, the daughter, falls in love with Iain Alleyn. Life, once straightforward, becomes complicated by epilepsy, a death, sabotage, jealousy, estrangement and a young girl’s risky relationship.
"This novel has a quiet shine to it. It is beautifully researched, unblinking, always kind. Sharing the lives of a Huguenot family living in the Fens, and see-sawing between their snatches of happiness and their tears, one comes to feel that, yes, this is how things really were."
Extract from Companion to Owls
September 1650, Morpeth
The line of five thousand men wavered as it advanced but only broke when someone tried to escape. When that happened a section of it would come undone for a matter of minutes as the person was shot, and then it would re-form. Dejected by a battle they had been confident of winning, the soldiers were being forced to march in the direction they hated most: south.
They coughed and groaned but rarely spoke. They were thinking about what had gone wrong, about their fellow soldiers who had been killed, about their injuries, their homes and the way their lives were turning out.
They reached Morpeth on the second night and were herded into a walled field. In near darkness they fell on the crop of cabbages, first sucking the water caught within the leaves, then tearing them out of the ground, then devouring them even to chewing the roots.