Sunday 16 January 2022

Micro Review 49


Jane's Country Year by Malcolm Saville (Handheld Press)

This book was on my extensive book wish list and seeing a friend talking about it on Facebook nudged me into placing an order straight away. The book isn't officially published until 18th Jan but Kate at Handheld Press dispatched it pretty much as soon as I clicked on the buy button.

Bex said she thought I'd love the book and (spoiler alert) she wasn't wrong.

Jane's Country Year is a little like a novel version of the wonderful What to Look for in... series from Ladybird that I fell in love with last year.

The book is set in 1947 and Jane is sent to live with her aunt and uncle on a farm to recuperate from a serious illness, the book then is split in to 12 chapters - one for each month of her stay.

Unlike many books set in this era with a similar theme Jane settles into country life well, she isn't a snobbish 'town mouse' disparaging everything rural. She is keen to learn, and make friends with everyone but every so often small plots (upset at killing pests, fear of shadows etc.) reminds the reader that she isn't a local. Her homesickness is also sensitively handled which was a nice change from usual tropes.

At times the plot is a little didactic and occasionally Saville does fall foul of the country yokel stereotype but on the whole I loved this book, especially with the fascinating introduction. I wish I'd had the resolve to read along just one chapter a month but it was soooooo good I couldn't help myself and just had to read it all in one go!

Saville was a prolific author but this is only the second of his books I've read and I will be looking for more by him - especially if they are set in locations I know (like Redshanks' Warning) or have a natural history theme like this one.

This is the 3rd book I've read from The Handheld Press and I am already looking at their beautiful catalogue and website working out what to try next...

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