The Farm

The Farm - Tom Rob Smith Daniel’s parents Tilde and Chris liquidate their successful nursery business in England and retire to a farm in Sweden. Every family keeps secrets and Daniel’s family is no exception. He thinks his parents moved to the remote part of Sweden because it is where his mother was raised and they wanted a quiet retirement. They do not know their son is gay. They each assume the other is leading their own idyllic life until one day Daniel receives a telephone call from his father – “Your mother is not well … she’s been imagining terrible things … she’s a danger to others and herself … she’s been hospitalized.” Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden his mother calls – “Everything that man has told is a lie … I don’t need a doctor, I need the police. Meet me at Heathrow”.

When Tilde gets off the plane Daniel sees that she is but a shadow of her former robust and confident self and instead of luggage she is carrying nothing but a weathered leather satchel. She is convinced her husband Chris is following on her heels on the next plane so at her insistence they go into hiding so she can share her story. How can Daniel not listen to her, especially when she tells him “If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son”?

Her story unfolds as she pulls item after item out of the satchel to prove the veracity of what she says. The secrets start to unravel, but can she convince Daniel she is not insane, as everyone claims? Before Daniel can make that decision he needs to investigate her claims himself and that’s when he discovers that the secrets we bury deep within ourselves are often the worst secrets of all.

Reading this book is like falling down Alice’s infamous rabbit hole. Everything sounds logical, but can you really believe what you are hearing? Is this all imaginary? Is it the ramblings of an old lady who has had a break with reality? Could it by chance be true and danger is around the corner. The writing had me guessing and wavering back and forth through the whole book. Mr. Smith didn’t let any secrets slip and didn’t alleviate my uncertainty until he was good and ready to have me know. At that point everything fell into place seamlessly. I could finally release my breath. Loved it!

I listened to this as an audio book and I have to give credit for my enjoyment of the story to the readers. James Langton voiced Daniel and did a wonderful reading but Suzanne Toren’s voicing of Tilde was outstanding. Excellent production!