#Feature: The Road Back by Liz Harris @lizharrisauthor #newrelease #bookreview #guestpost #historicalfiction #romance #TheRoadBack

By | August 2, 2022

When you read as many books as I do, it can be difficult to recall one you read over nine years ago – but when I read Liz Harris’ newsletter, and saw that she was issuing a second edition of The Road Back on 1st August, I was instantly transported back to the mountains of Ladakh and a gripping romance that I still remember so well and absolutely loved. Published this time by Heywood Press, this lovely book is now available again as an e-book and paperback, with an absolutely gorgeous new cover.

Over the intervening years, I haven’t read as many books from Liz as I would have really liked to. Way back in 2015, I do remember how very much I enjoyed The Lost Girl, a quite wonderful story of belonging and not belonging set in 1870s Wyoming that gripped me by the heart (you’ll find my full review here). And, lest you think I abandoned her writing entirely, I also thoroughly enjoyed one of the books in her Linford Series, The Flame Within, in October 2020 (you’ll find my full review here) – and I must try to catch up with some of her even more recent series, The Colonials.

But let’s take a closer look at The Road Back today…

‘A wonderful story of an illicit affair in Ladakh (a territory west of Tibet) in the 1950s. There is some terrific cultural detail in a splendid read.’ The Bookseller, 26th May, 2012

 

When Patricia accompanies her father, Major George Carstairs, on a trip to Ladakh, north of the Himalayas, in the early 1960s, she sees it as a chance to finally win his love. What she could never have foreseen is meeting Kalden – a local man destined by circumstances beyond his control to be a monk, but fated to be the love of her life.

 

Despite her father’s fury, Patricia and Kalden are determined to stay together, but can their forbidden love survive?

 

A wonderful story about a passion that crosses cultures, a love that endures for a lifetime, and the hope that can only come from revisiting the past.

 

‘A splendid love story, so beautifully told.’ Colin Dexter, O.B.E., author of the Inspector Morse novels.

When I first read this book, I hadn’t yet started my blog – but I have tracked down my review on Goodreads and Amazon, and I’d really like to share it again…

This was a wonderful story, rich and romantic, a real escapist read of the first order. Patricia travels to Ladakh in the Himalayas with her authoritarian father, and finds love with Kalden, their guide. There’s a great deal more to the story than that – both before and after their meeting – but too much detail might spoil the discovery for others. This story had a bit of everything I enjoy – a really engaging love story, rich detail in the Ladakh research and descriptions and the 1950s social background, two strong narrators for the early book to set up the story, and a well done dual time story as the book comes up to date. It’s exciting and tremendously moving, draws you into the narrative and setting, and left me thoroughly satisfied by the story and with a tear in my eye. An excellent read.

You’ll notice that I was a little more succinct in those days (!), but this book really was something rather special. I would have loved to be able to read it again, but sadly just couldn’t fit it in – but I’m really delighted to welcome Liz Harris as my guest today to tell us more…

Where’s Ladakh, I wondered in 2010 after speaking to my cousin in Australia. She’d mentioned that her father, my late uncle, had complied an album after visiting Ladakh when stationed with the army in North India in the 1940s, and she was looking for a home for the album.

 

I opened an atlas, and found the answer. Ladakh, a region administered by India, extended from the Himalayas to the Kunlun mountains, and had a border with Tibet.

Likir Monastery, Ladakh

So there is such a place, I thought. And I felt excitement stir.

 

At that time, I’d been hearing regularly that agents and publishers were looking for originality. If you’ve ever tried coming up with something original, you’ll know how elusive it is. But as I looked at a map of a province I’d never seen mentioned in a novel, I saw the Holy Grail, and I reached out to grasp it.

 

One of the most exciting ways of researching a novel is to walk on the ground that your characters walked, and breathe the air that they breathed. Admittedly, it would have been recycled a few times, but that’s a small point.

 

But unfortunately, hands-on research is not always possible.

A page from my uncle’s album, which shows him on the way to Ladakh

With low blood pressure, going to Ladakh, the highest plateau in India, wasn’t an option. So the starting point for my research had to be my uncle’s album, and I decided to set my novel in the 1950s and ’60s. Soon, between the album, the books I’d purchased and the internet, I’d gained an insight into the lives of the Ladakhi, who faced daily the problems caused by a lack of rain.

 

Here, we take water for granted. We drink it, shower in it, wash our clothes and dishes in it; cook with it; flush our loos, and so on. It’s impossible to imagine how we’d live if we didn’t have rain to fill our reservoirs and water barrels.

My paddling pool…

Yet, in high-altitude Ladakh there’s virtually no rain at all. The Ladakhi depend upon melt-snow water. Being resourceful, though, they found a way of coping with the lack of rain, a solution that affected their social organisation, and this gave me Kalden’s story.

 

A novel’s much more than a geographical background, no matter how fascinating, and a revelation of how people survived in a harsh environment – it’s a story. I hope you enjoy the story that fills the pages of The Road Back.

Many thanks Liz – and I’m quite jealous of all those readers who’ll be discovering this lovely story for the first time…

About the author

Born in London, Liz Harris graduated from university with a Law degree, and then moved to California, where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.

Six years later, she returned to London and completed a degree in English, after which she taught secondary school pupils, first in Berkshire, and then in Cheshire.

In addition to the fifteen novels she’s had published, she’s had several short stories in anthologies and magazines.

Liz has recently moved to Berkshire. An active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society, her interests are travel, the theatre, reading and cryptic crosswords.

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2 thoughts on “#Feature: The Road Back by Liz Harris @lizharrisauthor #newrelease #bookreview #guestpost #historicalfiction #romance #TheRoadBack

  1. lizharriswriter

    Dear Anne, What a really lovely post about The Road Back. Thank you so much for your very kind words, and for allowing me to talk to you and your readers about the background to the novel. I’m thrilled to see it go out into the world again, and with such a striking cover. I feel a very lucky author. xx

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