Friday, 22 January 2010

Pastures New by Julia Williams

*****
I've enjoyed a couple of books by Julia Williams, particularly "Last Christmas" which was totally indulgent over the holidays, so I decided to go back to an earlier one that somehow I'd missed.  A quick summary of the story - Amy and her young son Josh make the big move to Nevermorewell after the death of her husband and the increasingly pressurised relationship with her mother-in-law.  Amy settles into a more gentle life with her allotment, new friends and a career change.
Her developing feelings for local GP Ben manage to confuse both her and Josh, until the slow burn romance  is dramatically challenged by the reappearance of Ben's vampish ex Caroline.

Like her others I've enjoyed it's mainly down to the strong, likeable characters.  Amy deserves sympathy and although sometimes at a loss, is never pathetic.  Her confusion and delaying tactics are completely understandable.  Likewise Harry and Saffron provide a more practical, common sense foil to the emotional Amy. As a hero Ben is believable, again, his avoidance of uncomfortable situations was honest.  My only nagging doubt was the quick change in Amy's mother-in-law, maybe love does change everything...but I'm not totally convinced!
The setting is idyllic and although it could never make me love gardening or believe that having an allotment would improve my life, the rural village was an effective backdrop.  It's not a fast paced book but I really cared for the characters and overall it is a lovely, gentle, touching story.