'A topical novel and a disquieting account of the refugee experience. David Briggs' compassionate tale is immensely readable.' - Lucy Popescu, Editor, A Country to Call Home and A Country of Refuge
In the days before the outbreak of war in Syria, a young Kurdish woman, Zarrin, has brought shame on her family. She has paid a high price – as is the way for such dishonour – and fearing for her life, she flees, stumbling her way blindly to the border with Turkey, where she finds herself amongst a growing tide of migrants in a refugee camp. There, a son, Elend, is born – the product of her punishment.
She makes her way to Britain, scraping a living as best she can, but she is betrayed over and over as she moves from job to job, living hand to mouth and supporting her young son with what little she has. When her friend is killed and the police arrive, she once more has to flee, moving away from the city to find work as a vegetable picker, exploited, unappreciated but, importantly, largely unnoticed.
Then, at last, her fortunes change. She joins a group of itinerant workers who travel the waterways of England. With them, she finds happiness and companionship at last. Elend grows strong, love beckons and in a scene that might have come from Hardy’s Wessex, she is crowned Queen in a festival of hops on a Kentish heritage farm.
But her happiness is crushed once again when she is outed inadvertently on social media by one of her friends and, just as she has begun to find sanctuary, Zarrin's safety is at risk once again.