Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I Read in October Part IV...

What I Read in October Part IV...

News from Thrush Green (Thrush Green, #3)News from Thrush Green by Miss Read -- Historical Fiction/Romance

This book follows up the last two and takes place about 2 years after Winter at Thrush Green. The local gossips are all abuzz about The Tollivers, a cottage that has been empty for years. A young woman and her son move in - without a man - and proceed to fix up the cottage and grounds with some help from Harold Shoosmith. The lady, Phil, has moved to Thrush Green for a fresh start after some personal problems. She's an independent modern woman who writes a girls' column for a living. She's a little hesitant to become involved in village life but soon Winnie Bailey becomes the mother she misses. Can she confide in Winnie? Winnie's nephew Richard arrives to conduct some research at Oxford. Winnie and Dr. Bailey find him self-centered and boorish but Phil discovers he can be charming when he wants to be. Albert and Nelly Piggot find that married life doesn't suit them as much as they had hopes and Nelly ignores doctor's orders at the peril of Albert's help. Meanwhile, Dotty Harmer is busy trying to find GOOD homes for a litter of feral cats, despite Sam Curdle's offer to drown them.

This book is very different from the previous two. There's no hook or mystery to grab the reader and keep them interested. The plot doesn't engage as much, being a series of small events without an overall narrative. The plot is more melancholy than the previous two books. Modern life intrudes : television news, Heathrow airport and painted women are all mentioned, along with a number of d- words and one h-word. I really didn't like this intrusion of modernity at all. I vastly prefer the stories centered around village gossip for that reminds me of Cranford with a bunch of middle aged and elderly ladies sticking their noses in everyone else's business. I absolutely hated the ending. It took me by surprise. I like the predictable coziness of these types of stories.

The main characters here are Phil and Jeremy with Harold Shoosmith as the secondary main character and Albert Piggot as the third. Dotty Harmer also has a small plotline. My favorite character was Dotty. I'm also passionate about animal welfare and impatient with children at times so I could certainly relate. I guess I'm a crotchety old spinster myself and if I could, I'd be the crazy dog lady instead of the crazy cat lady. I wanted to like Phil because she's an independent woman and a writer but I felt she was too weak and weepy at times and her language brought the modern time frame of the story into sharp focus. Her plot takes a dramatic twist I didn't expect which affects the tone of the novel. Jeremy is a wise-beyond-his-years kid but with all the exuberance and good nature of a young boy. He's sweet and provides a good friend for Paul. Shoosmith is not an interesting character. He's indecisive though his heart is leading him in a certain direction. He takes on too authoritative a role for my tastes.

I have one more book on my nightstand and then I will see what the other books sound like and maybe see if I still like the series. 

Battles at Thrush Green (Thrush Green, #4)Battles at Thrush Green by Miss Read-- Historical Fiction

The story takes place not long after the last book, though it was written several years later and seems to have a contemporary setting. Battles are waging at Thrush Green. Albert Piggot, unable/unwilling to work as hard after his surgery, has a complaint about the churchyard. It's too much for him to keep up and looks like an eyesore. The good Rector and Harold Shoosmith agree and come up with a plan to renovate the churchyard based on one they liked in another town. This plan meets with opposition from some of the church council members. It could take years and money to come to a conclusion and Rev. Henstock doesn't like conflict. He's also waging a battle with the drafts in his house. He doesn't mind them but for dear Dimity's sake, he wishes he could provide a more comfortable home, but how to do it on so little salary? Battle is waging at the Tullivers too. Frank wants to send young Jeremy to boarding school but Phil thinks he should attend Paul's day school for a time until he's older and more adjusted to the changes in his life. There's a battle waging in the schoolhouse too. Miss Fogarty has never looked forward to retirement more than this term. A new, young, modern teacher had come to take the younger junior class and Miss Watson takes the new teacher's side against her old friend. It's a long term and something has to change. Dotty Harmer is left a car by her late brother and everyone is shocked. No one can remember her driving - at least not for the last 50 years! Dotty insists she has had her license since she was 17 and kept it up. She won't be swayed and persists in driving (at 30 miles an hour). When a boy on a bicycle runs into her and has to go in the hospital, Dotty is summoned to court. She maintains an outward calm but is inwardly worried. What will the outcome of the trial be?

This is another slow moving entry in the series. The hook comes almost halfway through the book and it wasn't enough to keep me interested. The other battles didn't interest me at all. I disagreed with the plan for the churchyard and I agreed with Phil about Jeremy's schooling. The teacher plot was already done in her Fairacre series and it bored me in that series and still here, though this one was better. There is one death in the story that made me sad. This story doesn't contain a romance or love story at all. I missed it and felt that it made the first two books better. Modern life intrudes again a bit, yet some of the old biddies are straight out of Cranford. Miss Fogarty even wears a spencer in winter! I think this story would be best appreciated by older ladies who can relate better to the characters.

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