Somehow I’ve never got round to reading one of Harriet Evans‘ novels until now. Beginning her career at The Lady magazine where she learnt how to polish chandeliers, she moved quickly on to publishing jobs at Penguin and then Headline before leaving to write full-time a few years ago. Her previous novels – bestsellers all – include Love, Always and Not Without You and fall into the genre of ‘commercial women’s fiction’. That’s not a criticism, just a shorthand.
A Place For Us* is the story of the Winter family, all summoned by Martha Winter to a party to mark her eightieth birthday with the instruction that “There will be an important announcement. We ask that you please be there.” Her three children respond with varying degrees of enthusiasm, ranging from Florence, the art historian, who sees it as a perfect opportunity to absent herself from the difficulties of her life in Italy, to easy-going GP Bill who lives and works locally and seems to attach no particular significance to the wording, to Daisy who remains silent – is she even alive still? And then there are the grandchildren, all with their own secrets and stories. I won’t talk any more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything.
I do have reservations about novels with multiple viewpoints as it’s rare that an author can make each voice distinct enough or for the reader to get to know a character well and that’s possibly the case here – sometimes I did have to pause to remind myself which character was telling their story and I’d like to have known some, especially Martha, better. Overall though, I really enjoyed A Place For Us. It’s in the Mary Wesley, Rosamund Pilcher tradition and I can heartily recommend it. It’s published today. Some of our subscribers at The Glenogle & Bell Book Company will love it and may find it in their parcels next month…
*this was a review copy sent by Headline. Thanks for that.