The Grass Memorial
War is the ultimate proving ground – it brings out the worst and the best in those who experience it, which is why novelists find it such a compelling setting.
War’s disasters – routs, failures, bad decisions – intensify the effect on those involved. I always wanted to write a novel set in the Crimean War, and then had an idea which would link three diverse stories across time.
In The Grass Memorial three individuals - a young officer in the Light Brigade, an American fighter pilot flying out of East Anglia in World War Two, and a thoroughly modern woman, a singer-songwriter - have one numinous place in common: the Bronze Age white horse blazoned on a hillside in southern England.
This book, with its split sensibility, was a new and exciting departure for me, and the research was thrilling. I travelled to the Crimea, Dallas and Wyoming and took a flight in the Harvard, the plane in which the Mustang pilots would have trained.
This is also the book that started my interest in song-writing, which has been a huge source of pleasure and satisfaction since.
The title came to me when my husband Patrick and I walked up the windy green flank of that green English hill to see the white horse for the first time. People, their wars, triumphs and troubles come and go, but always nature gently covers their footprints.