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Off the congested motorways and along the peaceful, solitary back roads, a village always popped up like a surprise. It could be down in a valley, around a corner, or be a pleasant revelation at the culmination of a long, lonely thoroughfare.

Even though everything appeared relatively unchanged, Edward felt that there had been a change in him since he was last here. Being away so long, he had become a new person. He had forgotten who he was.

They stumbled upon a hamlet that clearly held more significance among its community than it did on any map. With narrow roads more suitable for horse carriages than vehicles, and pavements barely wide enough for a couple to comfortably walk side by side, the stone- and wooden-built homes alternated their patterns down the block, converging on a gabled cottage directly facing the road. Geraniums sat dormant in their boxes by cold fogged windows, while along the lampposts, strands of garland added a touch of Christmas cheer.

(Excerpt from “To Be Known,” (c) 2020 Justin Field.)

In 2016, my wife and I had the privilege of touring the Cotswolds, whose villages inspired the novel’s fictional setting of Upper Dyrnan. (Some have asked me if the cottage in the book is real; it is not, it’s only a product of my imagination.)

Some of the many towns we visited included Chipping Campden, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Upper & Lower Slaughter, but it was the off-the-beaten-path, map-dot villages — far from the tourist radar — that highlighted that glorious, undefiled, yet secluded setting I desired.

All images (c) 2016 Justin Field and may not be used, copied or distributed.

Along the forty-five-minute scenic drive, Edward purposefully drove slowly, the white noise relaxing his mind. The smooth, narrow country lanes were a seemingly endless stretch of gray cutting through the tall green grass on each side of them, proudly swaying in the breeze as if declaring that nature was here first. Through fields and over hills, under mighty trees and puffy cumulous clouds, past quaint cottages and sprawling estates…he felt like the only person in the world. He had lived in cities so long, he had forgotten how much the peacefulness, the land, and the fresh air meant to him.

(Excerpt from “To Be Known,” (c) 2020 Justin Field.)