The Empty House

Rosamunde Pilcher is probably, overall, my favourite modern writer. I have all her novels, both the sagas and the short books, and re-read them all every few years. They're ideal for days when I want to curl up in a corner and escape to another world. I love the style, the people, the plots... I don't think she is capable of writing a bad book.

Today I picked up 'The Empty House'. I'm sure I have read it at least once before, but for some reason I didn't recall any of it. I suppose it's not exactly a memorable plotline, unlike some of Pilcher's other novels, but it was still very enjoyable. The story revolves around Virginia, recently widowed, who is taking a break with an old friend in Cornwall. Virginia has two young children who are staying with her mother-in-law in London, and it's clear that she feels overpowered by other people in her life. All she wants is a quiet, simple existence with her children in a relaxed environment. Instead they are organised by a nanny, taken places by their grandmother, and Virginia has no idea how to look after them.

So this book is a sort of growing-up for Virginia as she starts to take control of her life. She rents an old cottage for a month and together with her children starts to enjoy simple things. There's also - perhaps inevitably - a very low-key romance, with flashbacks to the past, both in her late teens and during her marriage.

So nothing special, nothing to stand out, and if Rosamund Pilcher wasn't such a well-known author, this book probably wouldn't still be in print. Yet it's a delightfully told story, with the people totally believable, right down to Virginia's two small children. Recommended to anyone who wants a couple of hours of gentle escapism without anything challenging.

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