Professor Alan Carr, University College Dublin:
“A coming of age novel with a difference… ‘Crossing the Water’ begins against the backdrop of the Irish civil war when two boys are caught in an incident which will change their lives forever. They take different paths, but their lives remain linked in distinctive ways as a tale of friendship and conflict, loyalty and emigration, love and war unfolds. The novel spans three continents (Europe, America and India) and three decades (1919-1946) during which the central characters and their families experience the joys of life but also struggle with the realities of separation, trauma and loss. Ian’s background as a clinical psychologist informs his descriptions of both the problems that befall his characters and their resilience and coping in this complex narrative. However, what makes this an exceptionally memorable novel is his empathy for his characters and his thoughtful storytelling … a masterpiece.”
Anita Atkinson, Editor, The Weardale Gazette:
“I have deliberately not read the advertising blurb that accompanied this book because whatever it says, it cannot do it justice. This is the most gripping and memorable story I have read; it chronicles the lives the lives of two young Southern Irish boys from their beginnings in a tough Catholic orphanage to their lives as men. Their journeys through life are fascinating aided by Ian Wilkinson’s extensive knowledge of countries like America, India, and of course Ireland after it gained independence from the British Empire (the story begins in 1919). Then there is the in-depth knowledge of a ship’s engine; farming in Weardale, because the book brings us there and keeps returning; life in India during WW2; and even the operatic circles of the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhatton.
The lives of the two boys become inextricably linked in the often brutal home and remain so for the rest of the story, which brings them both to Weardale; first to a farm in Westgate and then to the Cross Keys, Eastgate – Wilkinson’s knowledge of pre-war Weardale is astonishing, even down to the ‘Wardle’ dialect.
Not to spoil the story too much – enough to say that both boys become involved in matters that do not sit well with their families or the ‘troubles’ of the time, and they both have to leave their home country. They go their separate ways but meet up at intervals along life’s highway and both become heavily involved in the family who run the Cross Keys. Professor Alan Carr (UCD, Dublin) describes the book as a ‘masterpiece’ and I cannot disagree -although I wish I had a word that could eclipse his. It certainly is one of the best fictional books I have ever read and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone.”
Elizabeth Taylor, Librarian: “Describes the journey of two Irish lads from the trouble torn Ireland of the 1920s to the end of the Second World War; plus, the decisions they must make in loyalty and love. A great read for book groups.”
John Foster, BBC Radio Tees: “an amazing book… a fascinating story”
Chris LLoyd, the Northern Echo: “weaves a dramatic story from his wife’s family, about the murderous machinations and strange secrets of life during the Irish troubles, with other exciting tales from the second world war era…”