08/07/2003

The Carousel (by Rosamunde Pilcher)

I'm not the kind of person who lists favourites easily, but Rosamunde Pilcher has to be one of my all-time favourite writers. She creates such warm and realistic characters, I feel as if I know them all by the time I'm just a chapter or two into her books.

This must be the third or fourth time I have read 'The Carousel', and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

It's mainly about Prue, who is going out with Nigel, a nice young man, whom her mother thinks is ideal. Prue is thinking of settling down with him, when her scatty aunt Phoebe, phones from Cornwall to say that she has broken her arm. Phoebe runs a friendly and welcoming home, where many struggling artists have been housed temporarily, and encouraged in their careers.

So Prue goes to look after Phoebe. On the train she gets to know Charlotte, a small girl who lives in the same village as Phoebe. Charlotte herself loves to draw, and thinks Phoebe is one of the best people in the world.

Having arrived in Cornwall, Prue meets one of Prue's artists. And the scene is set for a gentle romance to blossom. The setting and the other characters lift what could have been an ordinary plot-line out of the mundane, into a delightful and often moving story.

Part of what makes this book special is that not only are Prue and Daniel brought to life realistically and sympathetically, but so are the much older Phoebe, and the ten-year-old lonely Charlotte.

The ending is most satisfactory, although there is some heartbreak along the way. I have to admit to a few tears at poignant sections of the book, even though I remembered most of what was coming from previous reading.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes a relaxing, character-driven and emotional read.

(You can also read my slightly longer review of The Carousel, written after re-reading seven years later)

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