An award-winning Scottish and Sierra Leonean novelist “brilliantly portrays the atmosphere” of Croatia in this haunting tale of war, history, and secrets (The Guardian).
Visitors are not common in the small Croatian village of Gost, so Duro is surprised to see a strange car pull up to a well-known farmhouse just outside of town. Laura, a British woman, and her two children are refurbishing the home to be their summer cottage, and Duro agrees to lend a hand, becoming Laura’s confidant along the way. But the rest of the residents of Gost are not so pleased to have outsiders in their midst.
As Duro works to shield Laura and her family from the town’s hostility, volatile secrets begin to bubble to the surface—secrets that could threaten everyone in the seemingly sleepy town, even the unwitting new residents.
The Hired Man is a story of lost love, dangerous history, and quiet malice. “Not since Remains of the Day has an author so skillfully revealed the way history’s layers are invisible to all but it’s participants, who do what they must to survive” (The Boston Globe).
In this moving novel from Forna (The Memory of Love), the scars left by the Croatian War of Independence underlie a deceptively simple account of a Croat developing a relationship with foreigners moving into his village. Exactly what Duro Kolak experienced in the fighting that enveloped Gost, his small town, is only hinted at for much of the book, creating a suspenseful backdrop. As the story opens in 2007, Duro meets Laura, an Englishwoman who has arrived in Gost with her family to start a new life. He offers her his assistance, even as other locals are less than pleased to have the newcomers around. Forna does an exquisite job of contrasting her leads perspectives on Gost Laura thinks it s one of the most beautiful places she s ever been, while Duro sees past the tranquil surface to the region s blood-soaked recent past. This is a powerful exploration of the impact that violence has on those who suffer it and those who inflict it.