17/05/2005

A Vicar's Diary (by David Wilbourne)

I picked this book up for a few pence at a jumble sale. I had never before heard of David Wilbourne - and it appears that there are no web-sites with either photo or brief biography of this man, although he has apparently written three or four other books as well.

'A Vicar's Diary' claims to be written in the style of James Herriot, but I was a little cynical before I picked it up. That was said about the Gervais Phinn books too, which focussed on a school inspector in Yorkshire. I quite enjoyed them, but they were like a series of anecdotes rather than the character-driven brilliance of Herriot.

I was, therefore, delighted to find that David Wilbourne writes extremely well. The book is a fictional account, very much in Herriot's style, of his first post as team vicar in a Yorkshire village. I wonder why Yorkshire attracts this kind of writing?

David is well characterised as a young, likeable but slightly nervous young man who is determined to bring God's love to his new parishioners. Not that it is overtly religious: the descriptions of services, often complete with practical problems inherent in an ancient church building, are factual and often amusing. The friendships he builds are real, and his initial doubt at some of the practices he encounters are soon overpowered by his realisation that these farmers and working people are good-hearted, generous, and caring. David is made very welcome and learns to love his new ministry.

There is some humour that almost made me laugh out loud, and some very moving moments which brought a tear to my eye. The whole is narrated slightly tongue-in-cheek, with excellent flow. I hope I can get hold of the sequel sometime. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed James Herriot's books.

(Later postscript: I read and reviewed the sequel, 'A Summer's Diary', three years later)

1 comment:

Candace said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Sue. I've just been reading yours and loving it. You're English and you love books -- yay!