Forgotten Laughter (by Marcia Willett)

I do find it interesting to see how my tastes and opinions change over the years. I've always enjoyed Marcia Willett's books, since I first discovered her as an author about ten or eleven years ago. Gradually I've collected almost everything she's written, and have been re-reading them in the past year or so.

In the past ten days, I've been re-reading 'Forgotten Laughter', which I first read in 1994. I remembered that I found it long-winded and a bit tedious, and wished that it could have been edited somewhat. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it very much this time.

This novel is partly about Brigid, who owns a couple of cottages which she lets out - one to her mother, currently, and one to various holidaymakers. Her husband is in the navy, and away for long periods of time, and while Brigid loves him, she's an Introvert who needs her own space, and is not at all sure how she will cope with having him around all the time when he retires.

It's also about Louise, a young woman who's worried that her partner is having an affair. There's also something traumatic in her past that she really doesn't want to remember, but which is being triggered by various people around her.

The story is a bit long-winded in places, but I didn't mind that this time. Perhaps I was taking it more slowly, or perhaps I've got more used to Marcia Willett's style, which tends to move forward with a fair bit of flashback at the start of chapters.

I found the characters likeable, even if some of the men were a bit strange; I particularly found the character of Louise's partner rather unbelievable, since he seems to transform from a sneaky, unfaithful liar into something of a hero. Brigid's husband, too, is rather a shadowy character, with a surprisingly bad relationship with his father, who turns out to be a delightful man when he comes to stay.

Still, overall I enjoyed reading 'Forgotten Laughter', and thought the ending worked satisfyingly well. I look forward to re-reading it again in another few years. Currently out of print in the UK, though sometimes available second-hand.

Note: 'Forgotten Laughter' is published in the USA under the title 'A Summer in the Country'.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 9th December 2009

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