When Jenny and Robert fall in love in the late 1960s they decide to build a new future together, away from the city. They escape to an isolated sheep farm nestled on a mountainside. It has no running water but it is beautiful and rugged. Their young sons can roam wild. As their flock struggles, money runs low and rain drives in horizontally across the fields, inside the ancient house their marriage begins to unravel. Wilful and romantic, Jenny refuses to abandon her farm. She will bring her boys up single-handedly on the mountain. Together they embark on a perilous adventure. Running for the Hills is astonishing family memoir ? Horatio Clare vividly recreates his mother?s extraordinary way of life and his own bewitching childhood in a magical story of love and struggle.
In this memoir, Clare, a Welsh former barman and BBC radio producer, narrates how his parents came to own a sheep farm. Robert and Jenny were young, ambitious and, at first, in love; he had been raised internationally and was a rising war correspondent and news journalist, she was an assistant literary editor. Nevertheless, they decided to leave London and buy a farm in Wales. Within three years of their marriage in the early 1970s, Robert, "the icy rationalist," had retreated to the city and a BBC post. But Jenny, "the mad romantic," stayed behind on the mountaintop sheep farm. With the assistance of her journals, Clare recounts his mother's daily rituals: encumbered by two small boys and a loan, Jenny slogged through the yearly rituals of lambing, feeding and marketing, all the while braving vile weather and putting her children in the local school. The valley villagers marveled at "her strangeness, her prettiness, pigheadedness and determination to survive" without a man at her side; the local men sniffed around. Nearly two decades later, the family moved to the village and into a house with a working TV. Beautifully written, with enormous affection, this is a memoir of an unusual childhood, but also a careful analysis of a "perfectly, heroically mismatched" marriage.