Scandal in the Village (by Rebecca Shaw)

I don't recall when I first came across Rebecca Shaw's books. I'm also not entirely sure why I continue collecting them when I see one in a charity shop which I don't have already..

However, I recently spotted 'Scandal in the Village', and bought it. I wanted something ultra-light to read over the weekend, and decided to try it.

It's another episode on the ongoing soap that takes place in this apparently calm village. Peter (the Rector) is worried about his wife Caroline who is evidently hiding something from him. Dicky Tut is enamoured of Georgie, the wife of the barman. She seems to reciprocate, but her husband is not happy about it. Sheila Bissett breaks her leg, and nobody is quite sure whether she can manage the harvest decorations for the church, so Grandmama Charter-Plackett decides to take over.

There are other subplots too, which I have already forgotten. I didn't even remember all those names without referring to the lengthy cast list at the front of the book. While I do quite like Peter and Caroline, and find their threads interesting in all the books, I find all the other people remarkably similar and two-dimensional. I'm sure I came across them in the various other books I've read in the series - the names do seem familiar - but I don't remember any of their stories, other than that of Peter and Caroline.

I feel as if this series was intended for television rather than a book. If there were actors putting their individual stamp on the characters, each clearly distinguishable, then it might work better. As it is, I'm not entirely sure why I continue reading these books, other than mild curiosity.

I didn't find this one particularly special; it passed the time, and was no worse than any of the others. I've come to the conclusion that I just like collecting whole series of books; if I can pick them all up second-hand, so much the better.

Not particularly recommended, but if you like very light reading (and don't mind referring to the cast list every other page) these books are a reasonably pleasant way to pass the time, and popular in many circles.

To my surprise it's still in print in the UK, ten years after publication. It has also been republished in a volume with two more in the series, and of course it can often be found second-hand, online or in charity shops, along with many others in the series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 22nd February 2009

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