The Wanderers by Tim Pears review – yearning and loss in the West Country

The second in a trilogy, this lyrical novel follows two separated young lovers through Devon and Somerset before the beginning of the first world war

The Horseman, the first book in Tim Pears’s West Country trilogy, observed the budding relationship between a landowner’s daughter, Lottie, and a labourer’s son, Leo. In this second instalment, set in 1912-1915, the pair are apart. Lottie, on her country estate, mourns the loss of her mother and Leo, homeless, wanders across the countryside in the company of Gypsies, tramps and hermits. Descriptions of the landscapes are tinged with a sense of yearning and loss; hills remind Leo of his “mother’s bread-making. The earth […] kneaded into shape” and Lottie finds a flower “like an angel, its hood curved like a pair of wings”. This is a novel of longing and loneliness, yet it is also a novel of nature and of man’s connection ...