This is the first book I have read by Marcia Willett, I will now investigate her other works. I don’t really remember where I saw the recommendation/review (I must start writing those things down…another learning curve!) I do remember it appealed to me that the story is set in Devon, England. It was 20 years ago, just about now, that I was in the general vicinity of the setting of the story…the only reason I remember this is that I had just returned to the States when Diana, Princess of Wales died.
The story isn’t my usual English mystery but rather an easy read about people…what a concept…of a certain age. Two of the last three books I have read (the other two will be up in the next couple of weeks) are centered on characters who aren’t 20 somethings which I found interesting not necessarily something I would seek to read unless I’m doing Miss Marple! But fascinating none the less. In addition, the female characters are very independent women which I could most certainly relate to (no comments on that please!)
Okay let’s get on with Indian Summer, shall we….It is set in a small village in North West Devon near the River Dart. There are several main characters and all their lives intertwine. Sir Mungo, his brother Archie and Archie’s wife, Camilla, Kit, Kit’s former, and wants to be current, lover, Jake, Mungo’s dearest friends, Izzy and Ralph, both long gone from his life, Philip and his invalid brother, Billy and the newcomers, James, Emma and her children, Joe and Dora. Oh yes, many, many dogs….
Sir Mungo is spending time in his home on his brother’s land for a respite from the hectic pace of London. He is now retired from being a huge star on the London stage as well as acting in and directing movies. In his youth he was one of three very close friends, which included Izzy, who went on to be a bright star on stage and in her older years in cabaret, Ralph made up the third in the group. He left them to seek fame and fortune in the States and neither Mungo nor Izzy forgave him. Oh, I must mention Mungo refers to himself as “versatile” in his sexual preferences! Kit calls and asks if she can come to visit, from London, she needs to digest the former love of her life waiting to come back into it and needs Mungo’s advice and sanctuary as well as the peace of the country. Archie and Camilla are “empty nesters” (do they call them that in the UK…more research on my part) and the substantial estate and farm land are in need of major repair and updating and Archie is struggling with finding funds to take care of these costs. He is renting two of the cottages to James who is writing his second book which he hopes will become a blockbuster novel, which sounds a lot like the book we are reading! Another is rented to Emma, whose husband a military doctor is stationed in Afganistan who is there with her baby daughter Dora and 5-year-old son, John. Philip and Billy are long term tenants, both are widowed and have grown children and grandchildren. Whew……
Kit is quite anxious to see Jake again, it has been many years since their last meeting and since their initial parting (I’m not spoiling this part of the book) but does agree to see him. Emma has a flirtation with one of her husband’s best friends…see where that goes. As in all English novels, there is a bit of a mystery that needs solving, again I’m not going to spoil it for you…it really is a bit out of the blue and I found it a bit disconcerting although a good way to include one of the characters back into the plot.
What it all boils down to is everyone is feeling either trapped in their circumstances or old or both..should they continue on as they are, renew old loves, make new ones, find a way to make the novel a success. The English do love their land, shall it stay in the family or should Archie sell it to land developers.
Okay, did I like it or not….yes, I did, I found each of the characters well thought out and each came to their own conclusion in the end…no strings were left dangling even those you didn’t know dangled! I found it refreshing to see the point of view of characters who are not Millenials getting on with their lives warts and all.
When I started my blog nine months ago this week…I decided I would only share, on my Tuesday Books Books Books posts, books I enjoyed and would recommend for you. Is that being a Pollyanna (note the literary reference!) maybe but I must confess, if I don’t enjoy the book right away I don’t go further. Yes, I am probably not being very intellegent in this choice but when one is of a certain age one can do what one wants, do you agree!? Do make book recommendations to me in comments.
Marcia Willett has written fifteen other novels, before Indian Summer was published, and lives in Devon, England. She has been compared to Rosamunde Pilcher (one of my favorite authors) and Maeve Binchy. Her website is www.marciasillett.co.uk.