Home to Roost by Tessa Hainsworth
|Home to Roost by Tessa Hainsworth|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: A gentle and descriptive memoir about a family becoming accepted in a Cornish village, with snapshots of different residents and their lives. Unthreatening, undemanding... and possibly uninteresting, depending on your perspective.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 263||Date: April 2012|
|Publisher: Preface Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
There seems to be a plethora of books about people who have moved to unusual places, or changed lifestyle in middle age for a variety of reasons. This book features a London family who have moved to Cornwall, and is the third (so far) in a series about their transition.
Tessa Hainsworth narrates the story from her perspective as a postwoman who is finally setting down amidst the Cornish villagers, and - at last - being accepted as one of them. She has a pleasant, light style that makes this an easy and relaxing read; it's descriptive, and gentle, and would probably appeal to anyone who knows anything about Cornwall or village life in general.
During the course of the book we meet an elderly couple who have a dangerous tree in their back garden, as well as a noisy peacock; an even more elderly lady who is showing signs of dementia; a young couple struggling to make ends meet; a lady who loves cats but is somewhat agoraphobic... and many more. There are far more characters on Tessa's round than I could keep track of, although it didn't really matter; perhaps, had I read the first two books in the series, it would have been easier to remember who was whom.
There's a new couple introduced in this book, too, who have just moved from London. They are rather better off than anyone else in the village, and seem to want a similar lifestyle to that which they enjoyed previously. They get quite upset by the noise of the peacock and want to employ 'outside' labour to change their house. The blurb on the back claims that 'a promising friendship quickly turns into a nightmare and the village is soon in quiet revolt'... a pity that whoever wrote that didn't actually read the book. Naturally this couple ruffle a few feathers in the village, while Tessa becomes a bit frustrated and wonders where her loyalties lie... but that's about as far as it goes.
The blurb also claims 'hilarious results' from another situation - running a bed and breakfast for a week - which could perhaps have been funny, but wasn't particularly amusing at all. I think this epitomises my personal problem with the book, and the reason why, despite it being a pleasant enough read, I don't feel any inclination to get hold of the earlier ones in the series. There are some promising characters and situations... but they all peter out rather too easily with very little emotion.
It's not that I want great excitement or dramatic conflict in a book - but I did find myself wondering, once or twice, when the story would actually start. I realise that the book is about real people and real life, written as a memoir with names and details changed, and that in general life does truck along in a gentle sort of way with problems resolving themselves one way or another. It's much more realistic than the kind of soap opera that can be found in some village novels; perhaps the first book, charting Tessa's move and initial culture shock would be more interesting.
Still, it made pleasant enough reading over a quiet weekend. It would make a good bedtime book, since a chapter at a time is plenty, and there's nothing that could possibly lead to bad dreams.
Allocating a star rating is surprisingly difficult since there's really nothing wrong with the book (other than the misleading blurb). From my own personal perspective, I'd give it three stars - yet the writing is good, if a bit introspective at times, and I know that many people thoroughly enjoy this kind of gentle, non-threatening memoir. So I'll opt for a conservative four stars.
Thanks to the publishers for sending the book.
Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage by Denis O'Connor is another gentle, somewhat rambling memoir. If you would prefer a truly amusing autobiographical story about a change of culture, it's hard to beat the classic My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Home to Roost by Tessa Hainsworth at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Home to Roost by Tessa Hainsworth at Amazon.com.
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