"Face the Wind and Fly" by Jenny Harper places contemporary issues in a domestic setting and challenges our views on relationships, within families and between friends and neighbours. Set in a fictional group of towns and villages in East Lothian, the focus of the book is Kate Courtney, a wind farm engineer, and her idyllic home in the conservation village of Forgie. For those who know the area the setting has a familiarity which enables the reader to visualise it well.
Kate is married to Andrew Courtney, writer of a series of best selling medieval murder mysteries and stay at home father. She is a workaholic, who recognises that her family has suffered from her inattention over years of striving to succeed in her chosen career and to show her predominantly male colleagues that she can cut it with the best. But work comes first, placing a strain on her marriage and her relationship with her teenage son Ninian. The situation reaches breaking point when she is placed in charge of a windfarm project which is almost literally "in her back yard".
Fifteen years of marriage start to unravel when Kate discovers that her husband is spending more and more time with a young fan. Though she throws herself into her work, it offers no respite as tempers within the local community become frayed and Kate has to bear the brunt of the ill feeling that the consultation process generates. She ends up going head to head with local gardener Ibsen Brown, and sparks fly, though as much the result of the mutual attraction between them as their differing opinions on the proposed development. But a community garden project brings them together and over that at least there is a degree of harmony.
This is a most enjoyable book with a satisfying ending, and while at one level the story is a simple one, the way author Jenny Harper delivers the content is excellent. Kate is a strong woman under pressure, facing many of the dilemmas of professional women of her age and education. Many will empathise with her and the life choices she has to make in trying to juggle her life, loves and work.