12/04/2008

Another View (by Rosamunde Pilcher)

There's something very relaxing about Rosamunde Pilcher's books. Warm characters who feel like friends, believable settings, satisfactory endings that make the world feel a better place.

I usually only read one of her novels at a time, spacing them out a bit; but on a recent trip away I took The Rosamunde Pilcher Collection, three books in one. Having enjoyed the first one, 'The Day of the Storm', I started straightaway on the second.

'Another View' is about Emma Litton, an independent young woman in her early 20s. She has lived and worked abroad after a rather erratic upbringing with her artist father, but really wants to settle down. Her father, Ben, is eccentric and rather self-centred. He has lived in many countries, but at last has decided to return to his home and studio in Porthkerris, in Cornwall - a favourite setting for this author.

So Emma decides to join Ben, to keep house for him, and look after him, and see if she can belong. They have a month together when things seem to be going very well - she doesn't hassle him, and he feels inspired and creative.

Then his art gallery in London asks Ben if he would go to the USA for a week, for a private showing of his pictures funded by a wealthy - and very attractive - lady. Emma does not want him to go, but when she realises he is not returning any time soon, she goes to stay with her much-loved stepbrother, an actor, in a rather insalubrious flat.

Meanwhile, Robert - who works at the art gallery - finds himself very attracted to Emma. But also finds her extremely frustrating, and she's not at all sure what to make of him.

A pleasant story, with characters who come alive easily, mostly warm and sympathetic. The only thing that really jarred was the way that everybody seemed to light up cigarettes at every opportunity. 'Another View' was first published in 1968, but I didn't think smoking was still so socially acceptable in the late '60s. It made it feel rather more dated than it is, along with the assumption (touched on briefly) that all good Englishmen sent their sons away to boarding school from the age of eight.

The ending is a bit rapid for my tastes, too, but then it's not a very long book. All in all, I thought it a very pleasant light read, with some good insights into artists' lives and temperaments. I hadn't remembered much of it at all from the last time I read it, which was probably well over ten years ago.

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