When Marie-Elsa Roche Bragg was just 6 years old, her mother committed suicide. Now, many years later, Marie-Elsa returns to that night. Going back to that moment, inhabiting this defining tragedy, allows for an exploration of the grief but also brings healing – as well as the affirmation that it is her experiences as a priest that have carried her.
In a unique and remarkable mix of prose and poetry, and written partly as a series of unsent letters to both her mother and father, Sleeping Letters is a way of connecting to past family, an attempt to reconcile with loss, as well as a radical exploration of Marie-Elsa’s own faith. While harrowing and unforgettable, it is also an immensely beautiful book, with a luminous sense of a daughter’s love.
After many generations, it is now Harold who runs Ard Farm. Out on the fells, he feels his father’s presence, and there is hope that he, his grandmother and his Uncle Joe will be able to take the farm forward and prosper. But their way of life is under threat: farming is undergoing huge change and increasingly harmful intervention.
Towards Mellbreak is a hymn both to the landscape of Cumbria and to a disappearing world. Poetic, beautiful and tragic, it exposes the struggle to preserve traditions and beliefs in the face of change, and an assertion of the power to be found in the rituals we pass down through our families.