Second Time Around (by Marcia Willett)

I've been reading Marcia Willett novels for about eleven years now. They're character-driven, comforting books which I find very relaxing and enjoyable. She tends to use a few minor characters from previous books, which gives a sense of familiarity, and yet each book stands alone.

I first read 'Second Time Around' some time in 1998, before I began writing book reviews. Eleven years later, I'd pretty much forgotten everything other than the main premise, which is described in the blurb on the back: three diverse people inherit a house.

It's actually about four distinct main characters. Firstly we meet Isobel, recently separated from her husband and estranged from her daughter. She is companion and housekeeper to the elderly Mathilda Rainbird.

Then there are three distant relations, to whom Mathilda bequeathes her coastal house. None of them know her, or each other, and all are lonely in their different ways. There's Will, a recently widowed man who has lived in Switzerland; Bea, the just-retired matron of a boys' school, and Tess, a young woman who is slowly carving out a career for herself in dog-minding.

These people, each with his or her own background and some painful circumstances, come together and find a surprising rapport. There are one or two slightly shocking incidents, some sadness, some enjoyment, and a general feeling of being amongst relaxing, likeable people.

Definitely recommended, and still in print on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 24th October 2009

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