Pastures New by Julia Williams
|Pastures New by Julia Williams|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Amy, recently bereaved, moves with her son Josh to the country. She makes friends, and gradually comes to terms with her grief.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: December 2007|
I really wanted to like this book. It has so much potential. Amy, the main character, lost the love of her life a couple of years before the story begins. She has been grieving, but has finally decided to move from London to a small town in the countryside with her young son Josh. She hopes to work in gardening, having just completed a relevant course. There are allotments near her house, and she quickly makes friends with other people in the neighbourhood.
There's also - predictably - an attractive man, Ben, who bursts into Amy's life by almost running Josh over, and thereafter seems to cause stress and arguments every time they meet. Evidently, from about page two, they were going to end up together. And there's Mary, Josh's grandmother, who lives in London and has been very close to Amy. She is very upset and hurt that they are planning to move.
The book charts the next year or so, involving misunderstandings, pettiness, squabbles, and also growing friendships and love. There are several subplots involving various different people - a young woman who struggles with an ex-husband, and worries that she's frigid; a manipulative girl who tries to seduce Ben; an elderly man on the allotments who is in danger of a heart attack. All these and others kept the story moving along at a good pace.
So in theory there are all the ingredients of a moving and enjoyable novel. It was well-planned, with plenty of interesting characters who varied sufficiently that I could nearly always remember who was who. And, indeed, I read this longish book (just over 500 pages) in three evenings at a busy time of year. I did want to know how situations would be resolved, and how Ben and Amy would finally get together.
Somehow, it didn't move me. In the early pages of the book I was mildly irritated by being given lots of background detail about each new person as they were introduced, rather than getting to know them along with Amy. I didn't need the general information, and didn't remember any of it anyway. I also felt that some of the conversations were a bit stilted, filling space rather than going anywhere with either plot or character development.
Still, I hoped that I would start to feel emotional attachment to Amy, at least, as I got into the book. Unfortunately, I didn't. I felt all the time like an outside observer, rather than someone involved in the lives of the people I was reading about. Of course, in a sense a reader is simply an observer, but some authors make me care about their people. I like to root for them when they're unhappy, and rejoice with them when things go well. That didn't happen at all in Pastures New. I felt intellectual satisfaction when various issues were resolved, but no emotion.
Still, if you enjoy light fiction, you could do worse than read this book. It helped me de-stress at the end of a busy day, but I never stayed up later than I intended to, or lay in bed worrying about the characters. Nor did I gravitate to the book during the daytime when I was busy doing other things.
Thanks to the publishers for sending it.
You can read more book reviews or buy Pastures New by Julia Williams at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Pastures New by Julia Williams at Amazon.com.
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