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What the Wind Saw by Zoë Jasko

Short Stories from the Heart of Hertfordshire

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Rating 9 (from 9 votes)
Rating: 4.92 out of 5 (12 customer ratings)
5 stars
92%
4 stars
8%
3 stars
0%
2 stars
0%
1 stars
0%

Reviews

Bob Little
An odd, yet intriguing, title
Review date: 25th March 2022

‘What The Wind Saw’ is an odd, yet intriguing, title for an odd - yet often intriguing – book from the pen of Zoë Jasko. Intriguing, ingenious and, at times, enigmatic, the book is a collection of 25 short stories set in various eras but all focused on an area designated ‘Middle Hertfordshire’ – perhaps in homage to that great storyteller of the last century, JRR Tolkien, and his mythical land of Middle Earth largely born out of his experiences in ‘Middle England’. Each of Zoë’s tales - a mixture of fiction, fancy and ‘faction’ (a basically factual story re-imagined) – is told with an urgency that keeps the storyline moving at the rapid pace required of short stories.

In four sections – Villages (Wheathampstead and Ayot St Lawrence); Field, Lake and River; Towns (Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City), and The City (St Albans) – the book also contains a foreword by Robert Voss, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, as well as a clever epilogue which draws parallels between the coming of the Black Death in March 1349 and the introduction of regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Covid19 in March 2020.

The concept of telling stories concerning people living on one area of land, over the centuries, is ingenious – and could appeal to those who know that particular area well. The stories illustrate an unsurprising but often ignored truth that, in every era, people’s concerns are the same. They yearn for stability, love, food and safety. Life doesn’t always provide these things easily and the perpetual challenge is how people cope with this and how they try to achieve their aims, given each era’s social conventions, technology and so on.

This book should appeal to those who have a connection with and a liking for ‘Middle Hertfordshire’. It could also attract short story devotees – especially those who are partial to having a variety of genres represented in the tales they consume. In addition, those searching for passing diversion and distraction in a book could find that dipping into ‘What the Wind Saw’ meets their need.


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Sandrine Hebmann
Beautifully written
Review date: 1st May 2022

I can't stop reading Zoë's short stories! They are beautifully written, and as an avid reader, I know that a book is a good one when you can just picture what you are reading, and for sure What the Wind Saw comes to life in the reader's mind. The descriptions are vivid, the reader is transported throughout the centuries, from ancient to modern times. Once you start reading a story, it is hard to put the book down.
Living in California, I find it refreshing to picture the lush and romantic English countryside.
This is definitely a great book!


Verified Purchase
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Clifton Hughes – musician
Review date: 18th July 2022

“What the wind saw” is a lovely varied collection: touching, surprising, dramatic and amusing in turn: an inventive glimpse over the ages into the lives of people of all classes, both young and old, interacting with each other and the Hertfordshire countryside.
There are twists and turns that the reader doesn’t anticipate, and many characters are so appealing that I felt bereft when their story ended.
I live in the area and will see these locations with new eyes. Sadly, I’ll also feel a twinge of disappointment when one of these engaging characters doesn’t pop out from behind a tree and engage me in conversation.


Verified Purchase
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Clare O'Connor
Fabulous short stories
Review date: 14th July 2022

Loved this collection of short stories. I don't usually read short stories especially not ones about an area I don't know, but this really drew me in. It prompted me to look up places on google and take pleasure from spotting the links. The Woman who lost her voice was my favourite - if you are a mum it will speak to you


Verified Purchase
please wait
Caroline Baynes
Review date: 15th July 2022

A trip around different areas of Hertfordshire gives greater understanding of its rich history. This book is made all the more pleasurable by knowing the precise locations selected. A visual context is provided by Stephen Hill’s beautiful illustrations. Zoe’s book has been meticulously researched, and will appeal to all ages with its mix of current day stories contrasted with yester-year. The nature of short stories means no forgetting of any plot, so the book is very accessible and enjoyable to read. I look forward to Zoe’s next one!


Verified Purchase
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Stephen Hill
Review date: 15th July 2022

What the wind saw takes you on a journey through the ages and introduces the people, areas and landmarks of middle Hertfordshire where the short stories are set. The chapters I’ve read so far have entertained and informed and left me wanting more. I’m local to the area but I honestly don’t think that matters, a good story is a good story. The Celt and Roman is my favourite so far, until I read the next one. It also comes with a very cool cover and a great map of the area inside.


Verified Purchase
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Jenny McCann
Review date: 20th July 2022

An entertaining, imaginative and thought provoking series of tales drawing on both the history and fable of locations in Mid-Hertfordshire.
Each vignette leaves the reader in either a reflective or amused mood and new readers will surely wish to explore for themselves just what the wind saw.”


Verified Purchase
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Garry Hart, Digital art manage
Review date: 26th July 2022

Easy to pick up and hard to put down, What the Wind Saw is a captivating ‘patchwork quilt’ of short stories all united in their setting of Hertfordshire. If you’re put-off by the apparent ‘localness’ of the book, don’t be. Each chapter is a solid story in its own right, regardless of the reader’s familiarity with the county. Of course if the reader does know Hertfordshire there’s plenty to connect to as well.

There is an enjoyable playfulness across the range of story genres but also an intriguing rhythm in the interconnections and themes that hold the parts into a coherent whole. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent reading this book and will keep an eager eye open for the next book from this new author.


Verified Purchase
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Ginny
Review date: 10th August 2022

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
My husband and I both read it, so I can feed back his comments too.
Presentation: spot on with the map and the little boxes before each collection of stories. I think it's been cleverly done and would really appeal to anyone who likes looking at genuinely old maps. I found myself returning to it again and again.
Layout: very readable, well spaced, not too dense, fo those of us who's eyesight is not as good as it was!
Content: - along the lines of Joanne Harris, whom I enjoy reading. I enjoyed the thread and meandering read through, not too brain taxing!
Didn't appeal as much to husband who as a scientist likes facts.
However, we are both amateur historians/ local dog walkers who have visited several of the places mentioned and this made it particularly attractive to me. Fit firmly on the local history shelves as a light read for general public/ interested teenager?
Husband struggled with any historical innacuracies (he's the same when watching TV), whereas I am unaware/ happy to ignore. Genre is some facts embellished with details to make it flow/ stories and I was quite happy with that.
Inspired epilogue linking in with lockdown/ covid which would make it a good buy for a family interested in local history.
I would, and did recommend it as a read.
Devil's Dyke was my favourite


Verified Purchase
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Clive Sparkes
A Delightful Book
Review date: 17th August 2022

Such enjoyable short stories set in rural and historic neighbouring areas of Hertfordshire made this a book I found myself wanting to read from cover to cover. That possibly was not what Zoë Jasko had intended when she wrote these individually charming and interesting short stories.
Although familiar with the areas described in the book, the pleasure in reading these stories did not seem to depend on detailed knowledge of the county; instead they are cleverly woven together to form a tapestry of life at different times within these connecting areas in Hertfordshire. But not just places and intriguing history, human life with all its interest and fun is enjoyably portrayed in this delightful book.


Verified Purchase
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Margaret Johnson
Review date: 26th August 2022

Do you like short stories? This is a delightful collection of stories which are engaging and hugely varied. Everyone will have their particular favourites! My husband was much taken with one about a Palladian Church; I especially liked the one titled, Pygmalion.
Zoë Jasko writes with an inviting style that draws you into the narrative from the opening sentence. Some are fiction, some non-fiction; many are based on historical characters or facts. Zoë has an easy command of language and there are some gorgeous descriptions that bear re-reading. An unerring eye for detail and a keen ear for dialogue ensure that this really is language to be relished by the reader. I defy you to put the book down mid-narrative!
This collection is rather unusual in that all the stories are based around a specific geographical area - a rather lovely part of leafy Hertfordshire. For those who know the area it gives them an extra dimension, a sense of familiarity even before you’ve delved into the narrative.
But what makes these tales extra special and of such high quality is their capacity to appeal to all – old and young – from any part of England and beyond. Because they are stories that touch on themes that are universal, with humour and tragedy, romance and comedy. They contain characters we recognise. They may have lived centuries ago or quite recently, or are, indeed, fictionalised, but they bring a smile to our faces, a tear to our eye, a nod of recognition. Human nature, with all its foibles and its capacity to rise to occasions and to be better than we thought we could be – all this is contained in this little book. Zoë Jasko is on a par with the very best of our short story writers and I look forward with anticipation to further publications by this imaginative and extremely talented author.


Verified Purchase
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Isengrin
A love Letter to Hertfordshire
Review date: 8th November 2022

This is a collection of 25 short stories centred around events and landmarks in Middle Hertfordshire. Some of the stories are connected: the first is a meeting between Julius Caesar and Cassivellaunus (arguably the first Briton named in history) following Caesar’s second attempt at invading Britain in 54BC; the second focuses on the archaeologists’ justification of attributing the Devil’s Dyke near Wheathampstead as the location off this historical meeting. Some stories are a slice of life for the characters through history as noteworthy events form the backdrop of their lives, the Second World War, the Great Plague etc. Others are much more light-hearted (the man who took his pig for a walk who was later featured on the 1980s television show That’s Life). Some are comedic (the woman bringing home all nine for the Greek Muses and the chaos that ensues); others are more poignant such as the tragedy faced by the Roman woman in Verulamium in “Proserpina’s Promise”.

The collection of stories comes right up to the announcement of the Lockdown in March 2020, and even looks towards healing a dystopian future considering the significance of the apple trees in Welwyn Garden City and how the vision of the town planner in the 1920s affects our present and attempted to forestall a terrible future. Some stories are based on real events; some based around imaginary characters. But, in each, it is the landscape that always takes centre stage, and the author demonstrates her love of both history and her local environment.

This is a gentle read. Jasko takes the reader by the hand, introducing them to sympathetic characters and then leading them through the events and the stories. There’s a lot of variety: it’s like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get next. But, trust me, it’s going to be delicious. This truly is a love-letter to the English landscape, written by the Hart of Hertfordshire.


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Rating: 4.92 out of 5 (12 customer ratings)

Paperback eBook

£6.95
ISBN: 9781914151408
Also available as an Amazon Kindle
If you have a coupon code you can apply it after you have added items to the shopping cart.
Our eBooks are in the international standard ePub format which is used by most eBook reader devices and can be read on a wide choice of FREE APPs on smartphones, tablets and PCs.
We also publish on Amazon in their proprietary Kindle format.

Description

What the Wind Saw is a collection of 25 short stories of the people, real and imagined, from a small tract of ancient land in the heart of Hertfordshire.
The wind has always blown over these villages, fields, rivers, its towns and its city. It always will. We have the same worries, fears, hopes and dreams today as we have always had.
We are connected to each other by our shared experiences, by the places that we live and by the paths that we tread.
These are stories of friendship, power, love, grief and ambition inspired by the landscape and what is in it – John Bunyan’s Cottage, Shaw’s Corner, the annual Ayot St Lawrence art show, the Devil’s Dyke, St Albans market, a walk in the woods, a walk across the fields.

Further details

Rating: 4.92 out of 5 (12 customer ratings)
5 stars
92%
4 stars
8%
3 stars
0%
2 stars
0%
1 stars
0%

Reviews

Bob Little
An odd, yet intriguing, title
Review date: 25th March 2022

‘What The Wind Saw’ is an odd, yet intriguing, title for an odd - yet often intriguing – book from the pen of Zoë Jasko. Intriguing, ingenious and, at times, enigmatic, the book is a collection of 25 short stories set in various eras but all focused on an area designated ‘Middle Hertfordshire’ – perhaps in homage to that great storyteller of the last century, JRR Tolkien, and his mythical land of Middle Earth largely born out of his experiences in ‘Middle England’. Each of Zoë’s tales - a mixture of fiction, fancy and ‘faction’ (a basically factual story re-imagined) – is told with an urgency that keeps the storyline moving at the rapid pace required of short stories.

In four sections – Villages (Wheathampstead and Ayot St Lawrence); Field, Lake and River; Towns (Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City), and The City (St Albans) – the book also contains a foreword by Robert Voss, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, as well as a clever epilogue which draws parallels between the coming of the Black Death in March 1349 and the introduction of regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Covid19 in March 2020.

The concept of telling stories concerning people living on one area of land, over the centuries, is ingenious – and could appeal to those who know that particular area well. The stories illustrate an unsurprising but often ignored truth that, in every era, people’s concerns are the same. They yearn for stability, love, food and safety. Life doesn’t always provide these things easily and the perpetual challenge is how people cope with this and how they try to achieve their aims, given each era’s social conventions, technology and so on.

This book should appeal to those who have a connection with and a liking for ‘Middle Hertfordshire’. It could also attract short story devotees – especially those who are partial to having a variety of genres represented in the tales they consume. In addition, those searching for passing diversion and distraction in a book could find that dipping into ‘What the Wind Saw’ meets their need.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Sandrine Hebmann
Beautifully written
Review date: 1st May 2022

I can't stop reading Zoë's short stories! They are beautifully written, and as an avid reader, I know that a book is a good one when you can just picture what you are reading, and for sure What the Wind Saw comes to life in the reader's mind. The descriptions are vivid, the reader is transported throughout the centuries, from ancient to modern times. Once you start reading a story, it is hard to put the book down.
Living in California, I find it refreshing to picture the lush and romantic English countryside.
This is definitely a great book!


Verified Purchase
please wait
Clifton Hughes – musician
Review date: 18th July 2022

“What the wind saw” is a lovely varied collection: touching, surprising, dramatic and amusing in turn: an inventive glimpse over the ages into the lives of people of all classes, both young and old, interacting with each other and the Hertfordshire countryside.
There are twists and turns that the reader doesn’t anticipate, and many characters are so appealing that I felt bereft when their story ended.
I live in the area and will see these locations with new eyes. Sadly, I’ll also feel a twinge of disappointment when one of these engaging characters doesn’t pop out from behind a tree and engage me in conversation.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Clare O'Connor
Fabulous short stories
Review date: 14th July 2022

Loved this collection of short stories. I don't usually read short stories especially not ones about an area I don't know, but this really drew me in. It prompted me to look up places on google and take pleasure from spotting the links. The Woman who lost her voice was my favourite - if you are a mum it will speak to you


Verified Purchase
please wait
Caroline Baynes
Review date: 15th July 2022

A trip around different areas of Hertfordshire gives greater understanding of its rich history. This book is made all the more pleasurable by knowing the precise locations selected. A visual context is provided by Stephen Hill’s beautiful illustrations. Zoe’s book has been meticulously researched, and will appeal to all ages with its mix of current day stories contrasted with yester-year. The nature of short stories means no forgetting of any plot, so the book is very accessible and enjoyable to read. I look forward to Zoe’s next one!


Verified Purchase
please wait
Stephen Hill
Review date: 15th July 2022

What the wind saw takes you on a journey through the ages and introduces the people, areas and landmarks of middle Hertfordshire where the short stories are set. The chapters I’ve read so far have entertained and informed and left me wanting more. I’m local to the area but I honestly don’t think that matters, a good story is a good story. The Celt and Roman is my favourite so far, until I read the next one. It also comes with a very cool cover and a great map of the area inside.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Jenny McCann
Review date: 20th July 2022

An entertaining, imaginative and thought provoking series of tales drawing on both the history and fable of locations in Mid-Hertfordshire.
Each vignette leaves the reader in either a reflective or amused mood and new readers will surely wish to explore for themselves just what the wind saw.”


Verified Purchase
please wait
Garry Hart, Digital art manage
Review date: 26th July 2022

Easy to pick up and hard to put down, What the Wind Saw is a captivating ‘patchwork quilt’ of short stories all united in their setting of Hertfordshire. If you’re put-off by the apparent ‘localness’ of the book, don’t be. Each chapter is a solid story in its own right, regardless of the reader’s familiarity with the county. Of course if the reader does know Hertfordshire there’s plenty to connect to as well.

There is an enjoyable playfulness across the range of story genres but also an intriguing rhythm in the interconnections and themes that hold the parts into a coherent whole. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent reading this book and will keep an eager eye open for the next book from this new author.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Ginny
Review date: 10th August 2022

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
My husband and I both read it, so I can feed back his comments too.
Presentation: spot on with the map and the little boxes before each collection of stories. I think it's been cleverly done and would really appeal to anyone who likes looking at genuinely old maps. I found myself returning to it again and again.
Layout: very readable, well spaced, not too dense, fo those of us who's eyesight is not as good as it was!
Content: - along the lines of Joanne Harris, whom I enjoy reading. I enjoyed the thread and meandering read through, not too brain taxing!
Didn't appeal as much to husband who as a scientist likes facts.
However, we are both amateur historians/ local dog walkers who have visited several of the places mentioned and this made it particularly attractive to me. Fit firmly on the local history shelves as a light read for general public/ interested teenager?
Husband struggled with any historical innacuracies (he's the same when watching TV), whereas I am unaware/ happy to ignore. Genre is some facts embellished with details to make it flow/ stories and I was quite happy with that.
Inspired epilogue linking in with lockdown/ covid which would make it a good buy for a family interested in local history.
I would, and did recommend it as a read.
Devil's Dyke was my favourite


Verified Purchase
please wait
Clive Sparkes
A Delightful Book
Review date: 17th August 2022

Such enjoyable short stories set in rural and historic neighbouring areas of Hertfordshire made this a book I found myself wanting to read from cover to cover. That possibly was not what Zoë Jasko had intended when she wrote these individually charming and interesting short stories.
Although familiar with the areas described in the book, the pleasure in reading these stories did not seem to depend on detailed knowledge of the county; instead they are cleverly woven together to form a tapestry of life at different times within these connecting areas in Hertfordshire. But not just places and intriguing history, human life with all its interest and fun is enjoyably portrayed in this delightful book.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Margaret Johnson
Review date: 26th August 2022

Do you like short stories? This is a delightful collection of stories which are engaging and hugely varied. Everyone will have their particular favourites! My husband was much taken with one about a Palladian Church; I especially liked the one titled, Pygmalion.
Zoë Jasko writes with an inviting style that draws you into the narrative from the opening sentence. Some are fiction, some non-fiction; many are based on historical characters or facts. Zoë has an easy command of language and there are some gorgeous descriptions that bear re-reading. An unerring eye for detail and a keen ear for dialogue ensure that this really is language to be relished by the reader. I defy you to put the book down mid-narrative!
This collection is rather unusual in that all the stories are based around a specific geographical area - a rather lovely part of leafy Hertfordshire. For those who know the area it gives them an extra dimension, a sense of familiarity even before you’ve delved into the narrative.
But what makes these tales extra special and of such high quality is their capacity to appeal to all – old and young – from any part of England and beyond. Because they are stories that touch on themes that are universal, with humour and tragedy, romance and comedy. They contain characters we recognise. They may have lived centuries ago or quite recently, or are, indeed, fictionalised, but they bring a smile to our faces, a tear to our eye, a nod of recognition. Human nature, with all its foibles and its capacity to rise to occasions and to be better than we thought we could be – all this is contained in this little book. Zoë Jasko is on a par with the very best of our short story writers and I look forward with anticipation to further publications by this imaginative and extremely talented author.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Isengrin
A love Letter to Hertfordshire
Review date: 8th November 2022

This is a collection of 25 short stories centred around events and landmarks in Middle Hertfordshire. Some of the stories are connected: the first is a meeting between Julius Caesar and Cassivellaunus (arguably the first Briton named in history) following Caesar’s second attempt at invading Britain in 54BC; the second focuses on the archaeologists’ justification of attributing the Devil’s Dyke near Wheathampstead as the location off this historical meeting. Some stories are a slice of life for the characters through history as noteworthy events form the backdrop of their lives, the Second World War, the Great Plague etc. Others are much more light-hearted (the man who took his pig for a walk who was later featured on the 1980s television show That’s Life). Some are comedic (the woman bringing home all nine for the Greek Muses and the chaos that ensues); others are more poignant such as the tragedy faced by the Roman woman in Verulamium in “Proserpina’s Promise”.

The collection of stories comes right up to the announcement of the Lockdown in March 2020, and even looks towards healing a dystopian future considering the significance of the apple trees in Welwyn Garden City and how the vision of the town planner in the 1920s affects our present and attempted to forestall a terrible future. Some stories are based on real events; some based around imaginary characters. But, in each, it is the landscape that always takes centre stage, and the author demonstrates her love of both history and her local environment.

This is a gentle read. Jasko takes the reader by the hand, introducing them to sympathetic characters and then leading them through the events and the stories. There’s a lot of variety: it’s like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get next. But, trust me, it’s going to be delicious. This truly is a love-letter to the English landscape, written by the Hart of Hertfordshire.


please wait