Historical fiction

An unenviable mission: Clear, by Carys Davies, reviewed

Carys Davies grew up in Newport, south Wales but her novels have been set in 19th- century Pennsylvania (West, 2018), contemporary Ooty in India (The Mission House, 2020) and now a small island off the north coast of Scotland in 1843. Her short stories have been set variously in the Australian outback and Siberia. She has said that when creating a fictional world, ‘I seem to require a certain kind of distance from my own life’. On an island ‘between Shetland and Norway’, a man called Ivar lives in isolation, talking only to Pegi the horse, whom he calls ‘old cabbage and a silly, odd-looking person’. One day he finds