11/04/2008

The Day of the Storm (by Rosamunde Pilcher)

I've loved Rosamunde Pilcher's writing ever since I first discovered her, in the mid 1990s. Being an avid collector of books, when I like the author, I was delighted to find The Rosamunde Pilcher Collection, inexpensively, at a good second-hand shop back in 1996. It contains three of her shorter, earlier novels: The Day of the Storm, Another View, and Sleeping Tiger. I read it shortly after I bought it, but as far as I remember, I haven't read it again since.

So, wanting some good light reading on a recent short break, I decided to take the collection with me. Alas, it's no longer in print as a volume, though it can often be found second-hand, but the three individual books are still available in both the UK and USA.

'The Day of the Storm' opens by introducing us to Rebecca. She is delighted that she has just moved into her own place - a small bedsit that she's renting. She has a job that she really enjoys, working at a bookseller's with a very pleasant boss. Her flat doesn't yet have much furniture, but she is relishing her independence.

Then, walking along one of the small streets in London, she comes across an antique shop which she has never seen before; inside are two chairs, exactly the kind she has been looking for. She manages to buy them from a rather arrogant young man, Joss.

However, when she arrives at her workplace, she receives a letter, which has been delayed by a month, letting her know that her mother is extremely ill, probably dying, in Ibiza. Rebecca's boss immediately gives her some leave and organises a plane for her to fly out and see her mother, who's rather a bohemian and amoral woman, but Rebecca loves her and hasn't seen her for some years.

She is able to spend a very pleasant evening with her mother, and learns for the first time that she has a grandfather, probably still alive, living in Cornwall. She also has a cousin, around her age.

When Rebecca returns to London, she is persuaded to go and meet her grandfather, who is now in his eighties. While there, she's caught up in a tense atmosphere, and a strange antagonism between her cousin Eliot and - rather coincidentally - the young man Joss from whom she bought the chairs.

The people are all warm and believable. Rosamunde Pilcher even manages to make coincidences seem entirely likely, and there's even a hint of mystery about this book, wondering who the 'good' guys are, and what has caused the antipathy between these two men. Despite having read it before, I really couldn't remember.

Even the minor characters are beautifully created, and add to the story; there are too many to mention, but even three or four days later I can recall most of them. I hope I shall forget them - and the plot - in the next few years, so I can enjoy re-reading this book yet again one day!

My only slight problem with the book is that the ending was rather too sudden. I'd have liked more closure, and a little more filling in of details. But still, overall I thought it a very good light read. Recommended.

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