17/11/2005

Village Secrets

Having been both entertained and annoyed by one of Rebecca Shaw's village novels (see previous review) I discovered another on my shelves which I bought at a charity shop a while ago, but had not read. So I thought I'd try it while the characters were still fairly fresh in my mind.

This one - fifth in the Turnham Malpas series - is rather more dramatic than the previous ones. Much of the plot concerns Kate (Ms Pascoe), the new tree-hugging vegan New Age headmistress of the village school. Clearly she's up to no good and tragedy strikes with shocking effect in places. Meanwhile village life goes on amongst the increasingly large cast.

The conversations and character development were no better than in previous novels, and I was a bit disappointed with the caricature and melodrama that surrounds Kate and her new friends. A lot of assumptions are made about New Age people, and when Peter - the Rector - stands up for Christianity, his faith is very watered down. Not that I like fiction with evangelistic fervour and verbatim repentance prayers, but this goes rather in the opposite direction with too little said.

Moreover, people seem to change without much warming. While that might reflect real life, it doesn't really work in a novel.

Still, I found this quite gripping in places and could hardly put it down.

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