13/04/2008

Sleeping Tiger (by Rosamunde Pilcher)

There are some writers whose books I indulge in when I need a rest. Top of the list is Rosamunde Pilcher. I try and spread them out, re-reading every six or seven years (maybe longer), so I usually only read one at a time. But on a recent trip to Egypt, I took The Rosamunde Pilcher Collection - three books in one - and have enjoyed them all.

The first two books in this volume are 'The Day of the Storm' and 'Another View', both featuring artists, and both having at least a small part set in Porthkerris, in Cornwall.

'Sleeping Tiger', the third book in this volume, is the first one published by Rosamunde Pilcher in her own name, back in 1967. It's about Selina, who we meet when she is being fitted for her wedding dress. She's sad at the recent loss of her grandmother, and evidently has mixed feelings about her upcoming wedding.

My feelings were more than mixed when her fiancé appeared; he's a bit caricatured as an upright, moral lawyer who never has a hair out of place, and who really only wants to marry Selina because she's attractive, and young, and probably malleable.

He gives her a book, which she thinks will be remarkably dull... until she sees the author's photograph on the back. It looks remarkably like a photo she has of her father when he was a young man... but her father died in the war, and nobody has ever told her anything about him. Her grandmother reused even to mention his name. But when she shows the photo to Agnes, her old nanny (Selina being from a well-off upper-middle-class family), Agnes too thinks it may be her father, and tell her something about him.

Selina learns that the author of the book, George, is living on San Antonio - on the Spanish coast. She asks Rodney if he would accompany her to try and find him, but Rodney is too busy - and is convinced it's a wild goose chase. Or, as he puts it, might awaken a sleeping tiger.

He is pretty sure Selina will stay at home and put aside her obsession with having some relatives, but Selina decides to go anyway. Unfortunately things seem to happen to her. Her luggage gets lost, and her purse is stolen. So she's alone in a strange country where she doesn't speak the language, with no money and no clothes other than the ones she's wearing.

All rather a nightmare - but very well-written, as is the whole book which is full of situations that would make me cringe. Selina, however, is much more confident than she appears - shades, perhaps, of her grandmother - and she continues taking action in her own way, foiling various other people's plans, and endearing herself to George's housekeeper, among others.

Amusing in places, with a slightly predictable (if somewhat rushed) conclusion. Very enjoyable - and still in print, as an individual book, although the three-volume collection can only be found second-hand.

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