“Running away can be the answer if you run to the right place…
When Cassie accepts a job as companion to an old lady in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she wants is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers…
Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for over thirty years and now Barney is hiding away there, forging a new life after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too…”
This might be a very short review today because all I want to say about this book is….I absolutely loved it, and I mean I really loved it, it may be one of my favourite reads of 2017. I started reading it on Thursday evening and had to stay up until I finished it on Friday – I just couldn’t wait to finish it, whilst at the same time not wanting it to end.
It is initially very hard to describe what is so compelling about this book because, on the face of it, the plot seems like a fairly straight-forward premise for a romance novel, nothing startlingly out of the ordinary. If you read the blurb or looked at the cover, it might not jump out at you as anything special. Oh, but how you would be missing out if you over-looked it.
This book, its setting and, most importantly of all, the characters just stole my heart. They have stayed with me and had me thinking about them since I turned the last page; sure sign of a book that has had a meaningful impact on me. Again, I can’t really tell you why, the story-telling is so subtle and insidious that it grabs you without your really noticing. the writing is really so beautiful and clever.
The setting and the cast of characters are extremely warm and charming, you immediately feel right at home in the big house at Ramblings and the charming village of Ribblesmill. Frances is a woman that you cannot help feeling compassion for (although you know she would hate to think you feel sorry for her!) and the relationship she has with Cassie unfolds beautifully as two people who understand and care for each other, and have found each other just at the right time. Barney is a suitably attractive love interest, but really it is the relationship between Frances and Cassie that for me was at the heart of this novel and I think the reason I loved it so much. It made is so much more than the usual ‘boy meets girl’ romance scenario.
Frances’ children are suitably villainous without descending to caricature and I loved the characters of Mel and Akram and Ethel who brought some light relief, again without descending to pantomime. The whole book is just perfectly balanced and it is actually astonishing to me that this is a debut novel, the writing is so cleverly done.
If I had to make a tiny criticism, I would say that the plot involving Barney leaving the medical profession and the situation with his ex-wife was a little confusing and not very clearly explained and seemed a bit of an after-thought that was not fully developed but this is a totally minor issue and did not detract from the enjoyment of this book one bit.
I feel like I haven’t adequately explained quite why I adore this book as much as I do and why you really must go out and read it immediately and I think that is actually the genius behind it. It isn’t big and flashy and brash, it doesn’t flaunt its charms and trumpet its themes. It is quiet, and clever and sweet and brilliant and it gets under your skin with its warmth. It explores its issues thoughtfully and subtly and balances the ending between melancholy and uplifting perfectly. It is just a joy and I know it is a book I will come back to again and again.
The Magic of Ramblings is out now and you can buy a copy here and I can’t wait to see what is next from this author.
About the Author
Kate Field lives in Lancashire and writes contemporary romance with a touch of Northern grit. The Magic of Ramblings was the winner of the RNA’s prestigious Joan Hessayon Award 2017 for new writers.