on September 16, 2011
This genre-defying novel by first-time author Jill Rowan is hard to sum up : fantasy/ supernatural/soft science-fiction, with a touch of romance, and time travel (thus both contemporary and historical). This blend creates a wholly satisfying read, captivating and original. The heroine, Fallady, is mature, smart, resourceful, and rational throughout : there are no contrived conflicts or silly secrets. Within this strange universe, Fallady acts logically. Other characters are also well-drawn : the people she loves are kind and attractive, her friends are sympathetic, by-standers, villagers and staff are intriguing. Several eighteenth century characters are unusually (if not implausibly) open-minded but it's all part of the charm. It's easy to identify with self-described « corpulent » Fallady who is ready for a midlife change, and fascinating to explore the mystery that awaits her in her new surroundings. The believer/atheist opposition is a theme rarely found in popular fiction and is here treated with respect and balance. The tone is light and humorous, slightly reminiscent of Barbara Michaels' early novels. All in all, a most enjoyable read.
on September 20, 2011
I'm not normally much of a reader, but this one got me hooked right away.
It's about a woman, Fallady, who gives up her job and life in London to go
and live in a mysterious old watermill she's inherited in the wilds of
Shropshire. Things seem a bit strange from the start, when the people in the
nearest town seem unduly interested in her, and the girl in the shop tells
her she'd better buy some candles, but at the house all seems normal at
first, except it doesn't have much in the way of modern comforts. It's only
the next day, when she finds the electricity's gone off and she's suddenly
acquired a housekeeper and gardener that she starts to get worried.
From there, the book moves along nicely, especially when Fallady finds
herself in the 18th century, where the answer to part of the mystery might
lie. The whole story is told in the first person by Fallady in a humorous
way that draws you in and keeps you interested even in the little details of
18th-century life like wigs and chamberpots.
The book is fantasy/soft SF and I've never been a fan of that sort of thing,
but in this case that didn't seem to matter. I got engrossed with the main
characters and their relationship, more than the time-travel and how it came
about. All in all, a great and absorbing read I'd recommend to anyone who
likes strong characters and non-soppy romance.