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Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

Secrets in Prior's Ford is the first in a new series of books from Eve Houston and features a fictional village not far from Kirkcudbright in the Scottish Borders. You can tell that it's Scotland because the children pull faces if their porridge hasn't been salted - unlike their southern counterparts who require golden syrup. If you enjoyed Rebecca Shaw's stories of Turnham Malpas or Gervase Phinn on the Yorkshire Dales then you'll feel quite at home in Prior's Ford.

Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Village life in the Scottish borders is perfectly captured in this first book of a new series which will appeal to you if you enjoyed Rebecca Shaw or Gervase Phinn. Recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: January 2008
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 978-0751539615

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I live in a village and I know that there's always something coming along which is going to split public opinion with strong feelings disturbing the surface tranquillity. In Prior's Ford it's the possibility that an old granite quarry is going to be reopened. Some people see the increased trade that will come to the village or the chances of employment where there is little chance at the moment. Others see the peace and tranquillity being eroded by the noisy quarry workings or of lorries creating dust and danger in the village. For some people it's obvious where their preferences will lie, but there are some who seem to be going against their own best interests.

Clarissa Ramsay isn't very interested in what's happening. Her husband died without warning very recently and as if that isn't bad enough, she's just found that he had a whole life that she knew nothing about - and her two step-children are doing their best to persuade her to sell her home and move back to England. It takes courage to refuse and try to build her life again.

Publican Glen Mason might be expected to be all in favour of the new quarry which would certainly bring him a great deal of extra trade but he's so against it that he organises a protest group. He's keen to protest but reluctant to become involved in any sort of publicity, but why?

It's the impoverished Ralston-Kerrs who are probably going to be able to settle the dispute one way or the other. The quarry is on their land and their permission would be needed before any mining could take place. The rental money would be a godsend to them and might even mean that the leaking roof could be mended, but they know that whatever they decide they're going to upset a part of the village which they love and which regards them as the local Laird. The differing problems of the proposed mining venture are presented clearly but without being over-simplified and there are points which are thought-provoking in their own right.

There's a full supporting cast of villagers with their own troubles, passions and secrets and they're all deftly handled, with the stories ingeniously interwoven. It captures village life well, with the feeling that it can be claustrophobic or it can be supportive, depending on your point of view or your needs. There's something there to appeal to everyone.

This book can be read as a stand-alone but I did sense that there were one or two strands which would be continued in later books, with the next planned to appear in January 2009. There's no sense of a cliff-hanger which remains unresolved until the next book is published and for that I was grateful!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then we can recommend Soft Voices Whispering by Adrienne Dines or The Girl From World's End by Leah Fleming.

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Buy Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston at


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