‘Past and present become interwoven in this tale of two ages and one love, a love strong enough to overcome the horrors of the first world war and to link characters in a strange, indefinable way.

Liam’s Story is the sequel to a first novel Louisa Elliott, inspired by a diary of a soldier from Yorkshire who tastes first-hand the bitter meats of Gallipoli, Egypt, the Somme and Ypres with the Australian forces.

His horrific brutal experiences are relived in this second novel when Louisa’s son Liam discovers the tragic truth of his birth and family and heads for Australia on the rebound.

The story is seen through the eyes, at first, of Zoe, a young woman with a longing to know more about her mysterious great-grandmother, a shadowy figure who dominated her early childhood.

It is a book about relations, and the complicated, unsatisfactory relationships they provide, about 19th century taboos and a history which comes alive in present descendants of the family.

Historically the book is reasonably accurate. Details of York and wartime France are carefully researched and the up-to-date details of shipping oil from Kuwait most topical.

Writing is clear but not concise, dwelling on the physical and mental effects of a forbidden love with almost an excess of compassion. And although Mrs Roberts is a gripping writer, her novel seems inordinately long.

‘A book to take on holiday, when time stretches and there are no deadlines to meet.’ HW.