28/03/2011

Scandal in the Village (by Rebecca Shaw)

Some years ago I started reading books in the 'Turnham Malpas' series by Rebecca Shaw. It's an ongoing village saga, featuring a rather attractive rector called Peter, his doctor wife Caroline, and various residents of the village. What's odd is that I wasn't all that impressed by the novel - although I was interested enough to keep reading - and yet, any time I see one in a charity shop, I pick it up. I must have about nine or ten of them now.

So when I was in the local Thrift Store at the weekend, and spotted 'Scandal in the Village', I read the blurb on the back; it didn't sound at all familiar, and was only 50c, so I bought it. And, wanting something light and quick to read on Sunday afternoon, I thought I might as well try it...

It was only when I reached about the sixth chapter that I began to feel a sense of deja vu. So I switched on my computer, and searched.. and sure enough, I had read it before. Slightly embarrassingly, it was only two years ago that I first read 'Scandal in the Village'. Evidently I have another copy somewhere... but it wasn't so familiar that I remembered anything much about what happened.

There are, as with all these books, a mixed selection of subplots involving a variety of people. So many that there's a cast list in the front, which I find myself referring to frequently. (There's also a map of the village, but I don't usually bother with that).

From memory, off the top of my head, this book includes Caroline having a mysterious ailment which she doesn't want to tell Peter about; the barman's wife Georgie starting an affair (or, at least, a romance) with Dicky Tutt, a broken leg, and a fight about harvest decorations. Oh, and a rather dramatic fight at the top of the church tower.

I was surprised that I did quite enjoy reading it - I tend to feel that these books could do with some editing, but I didn't find the ultra informal style or wordiness to be too much of a problem. I'd totally forgotten how the book ended, and how most of the problems were resolved, so felt it was worth reading again.

All the 'Turnham Malpas' novels stand alone, but it's probably easiest to read them in approximate order. First in the series is 'The New Rector'.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 28th March 2011

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