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Review of The Empty House, a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel, published by Hodder Paperbacks, 200 pages, ISBN 978-0340840252, cover price £6.99.
Genre:- Romantic fiction.
Currently available on www.amazon.co.uk for £5.49 new or from £3.00 used.
Written in 1973, The Empty House is set in Cornwall.
Newly widowed Virginia Keile has left her two children in London with their paternal Grandmother while she has a holiday in Cornwall at the home of Alice Linguard, an old friend of her late mother. Virginia has been ill, her husband Anthony died in a freak accident at their country estate home in Scotland, and she then contracted a severe bout of flu. Anthony had been drinking and drove his car off the bridge that connected their estate to the road. The car went into the river and Anthony drowned.
Virginia had stayed with the Linguards ten years earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and her mother had spent a very pleasant spring with them and Virginia had met and became friendly with a local farmer, Eustace. Her mother had not approved of the friendship and taken Virginia back to London, where very shortly afterwards, Virginia had met and married her husband.
As the plot unfolds we see Virginia coming to terms with her widowhood and the secrets behind her seemingly happy marriage. She takes the decision, much against her mother in law's wishes to collect her children from London, dismiss the nanny, who is an old family retainer and rent a ramshackle, isolated, empty house in Cornwall to be alone with her children. This is the empty house of the title. Once Virginia has settled into the empty house, the plot thickens!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rosamunde Pilcher was born in Lelant, Cornwall, on September 22, 1924. Following her education at St. Clare's Polwithen and Howell's School Llandaff, she attended Miss Kerr-Sanders' Secretarial College. She served with the Women's Royal Naval Service 1943-46. She married Graham Hope Pilcher on December 7, 1946, she was 22. They have four grown children, her oldest son, Robin, is also a writer.
Rosamunde got her start in 1949 as an author of Mills and Boon romances, under the name Jane Fraser. She published 10 novels using that pen-name. Her first novel as Rosamunde Pilcher, A SECRET TO TELL, was published in 1955. In 1965 she began to use her own name full time.
One of Rosamunde Pilcher's best known novels is The Shell Seekers, first published in 1987. The Shell Seekers sold more than five million copies worldwide and was adapted for the stage by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham.
Rosamunde Pilcher retired from writing in 2000. She is now widowed and continues to live in Dundee, Scotland.
MY THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSION
The Empty House is a really charming novel. In my opinion, it is pure escapism reading from a master storyteller. Rosamunde Pilcher has the knack of making even the mundane seem alive and interesting and she has excelled herself in this fairly short novel. The characters are superbly drawn, Virginia develops and blossoms from a down trodden and insecure person into a strong, motivated woman. The dialogue is fast paced and the plot, although simple is a pleasure to see unfold.
Virginia's strength of character shines through as she begins to accept and admit that her husband was a selfish and self centred man who cared only for himself. She also comes to realise that her late mother was at times an overly domineering influence on her youthful self. It seemed to me that her mother had acted in the way she did in an attempt to make sure Virginia's future was secure, something most parents want for their children. She had acted for the best of reasons, as she saw them. However, these reasons are not always what the child would want for themselves when grown up.
Virginia's metamorphosis into a strong woman and mother is a delight to read and I really felt she was a better person for the change.
I find Ms Pilcher's novels to manage to capture the imagination and enthrall the reader as she unravels her plot, 'The Empty House' is no exception.
Yes, the novel is a little dated in places, but it was written almost 40 years ago! The storyline is one that can be related to with ease and the characters and location descriptions are remarkable. Even if you don't usually read this type of fiction, I would say that it is certainly worth a second look.
I really enjoyed this novel and have re-read it several times over the years. I would certainly recommend it to others, particularly those who like a well written, light-hearted look at people, in all their glory!
Thank you for reading
©brittle1906 December 2010
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