A Rural Affair by Catherine Alliott
This is chicklit , quite entertaining and an easy read but could never be described as a worthy read . A friend passed this on to me in a pile of books recently and a wanted something light so selected this from my huge 'to be read' shelf of books.
THE STORY AND THOSE IN THE IT
This starts in an amusing way with a wife absentmindedly dreaming of what her life might be like if he rather controlling husband dropped dead. He does get killed in a freak accident that is appropriate in the story as it is totally ridiculous in an almost farcical way.
Poppy initially feels relieved and free but then discovers that he was not all she thought he was. She decides to make the most of her freedom and start her new life. Poppy is your average housewife in a middle class rural cottage in a small village. Those around her are also rather middle to upper class and all a bit snobby in my opinion.
Poppy's father is an alcoholic horse breeder but loving in an eccentric horsey sort of way. He mixes with the hoi polloi despite his drinking and untidy and somewhat chaotic housekeeping. He is a supportive loving father though and this is made abundantly clear.
Poppy has a great group of women friends who try to support her and help her re start her life and these each in turn have their own mini crises. There are also a number of men in the book each with different quirky characteristics and providing alternative prospective love interests to Poppy in her new life.
This was an entertaining story that grabbed me from the start even though the entire time I kept thinking 'this is so over the top' and silly. Aspects of this were so true to village life in the same way as 'Vicar of Dibley' is, offering an amusing exaggeration of people you know and recognize.
I live in a village and although no-one is actually the same as any of the characters I can picture the scenes. I know people who have been to the Young Farmer's Balls and the Hunt Balls and indeed some of those I meet with socially mix with and people with titles and have boxes at the races and so on. I don't partake in that side of the social life in the village and the area but I know plenty who do.
The descriptions of Poppy hunting did make me laugh and would not look out of place in a 'Carry On' film as she cavorts over fences and breaks all the rules of hunting etiquette including her horse kicking and accidently killing a hound . I can just imagine the stuffy upper echelons of hunting society being really shocked. It reminded me of Eliza Doolittle at the races shouting out to the horse "Come on, Dover. Move yer bloomin' arse!"
On that one level it is an entertaining tongue in cheek story laughing the English village life but I also felt it was a bit obvious at times. The characters were a bit stereo typed and the good were scruffy, funny and quirky while the bad ones were sleek, cool and calculating.
It reminded me at times of a 'Rom Com' film that you might watch one evening on the TV and then in a few months times you have forgotten it and will sit down to watch again only to realize five minutes in that you have already seen it. In other words pleasant and inoffensive but totally forgettable.
I can't imagine my husband ever getting beyond the first chapter as it really is chicklit. It is a book set in Alliott's imaginary village life, something like 'Stepford Wives' in its setting but not the characters which were a bit one dimensional and a bit 'Jilly Cooper 'without the naughty bits.
Well I can't say I would rush out looking for another of this author's books to read as it is a totally effortless read. It is mildly amusing, not offensive in any way but also not a book that I will remember in a few months time either. That said I would not actually reject an Alliott book if it was given to me either as it is the kind of book I enjoy on a plane when I need to have something totally easy and requiring little brain power to fill my time when stuck in a cramped seat for hours.
I am giving it four stars as it does what it sets out to do - entertain.
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