Author: Laura Beatty
In the middle of her life, a writer finds herself in a dark wood, despairing at how modern Britain has become a place of such greed and indifference. In an attempt at escape, she and her lover rent a busted-out van and journey through France and down to the Mediterranean, across Italy and the Balkans, finishing in Greece and its islands.
Along the way, they drive through the Norman Conquest, the Hundred Years War, the Italian Renaissance, the Balkan wars of the 1990s and on to the current refugee crisis, encountering the shades of history, sometimes figuratively and sometimes - such as Joan of Arc, sitting pertly in the back of the van - quite literally. As she roadtrips through 10,000 years of civilization, watching humanity repeat itself with wars over borderlines and exceed itself with the creation of timeless art, the writer begins to reckon with the very worst and the very best in our collective natures - and it is in seeing the beauty beside the ugliness, the light among the trees, that she begins to see, finally, a way for her to go home.