My Friend the Swallow

Jane Duncan

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27 August 2015
236 pages

'She was very small with fragile birdlike bones, and although she had slept in the white shirt and shorts she still looked fresh and airy, as if she had just flown in from the open sky . . . '

When Janet Sandison returns to her Caribbean home from a holiday in Scotland she finds her husband Twice Alexander wonderfully restored to his old self, full of hope for the future and no longer haunted by the illness which had shadowed their lives for several years. Sir Ian has made him Manager of the Paradise sugar mills, with gawky young Mackie as his assistant; but Janet senses that almost the main contribution to his recovery is the arrival on the island of a girl who is keeping house for a team of young social workers, whom the island has nicknamed the 'Teeth and Feet people'.

For Twice this is the daughter he has never had, but for Janet the relationship is more complicated. The girl has flown into Janet's house and Twice's heart but seems somehow always ready to take wing again, like the swallows of Janet's beloved childhood home, Reachfar.

This is a wise story of ends and beginnings, for the lives of not only Janet and her husband but of all their friends in St Jago and in Scotland are moving on, changing and developing in a way which holds sadness and fortitude, gaiety and love, all woven together with that mixture of humour, hard sense and understanding which make Jane Duncan's novels such engrossing reading.