Christmas has come and gone but if you’re in need of some literary sugar to go with your morning coffee and those chocolate cookies you could give this a try. Perhaps you need something short and light before tackling that big chunkster that’s been sitting on your bookshelves for months now. If so, dipping into a bit of romance might be just the thing.
Young cleric William Brook, who dreams of preaching in faraway lands, has to contend himself with the position of vicar in a small village. Cecelia Grant, local beauty and artist, dreads the time when she will have to put her artistic dreams on hold in order to satisfy her mother’s wish that she marry into money. Two people unhappy with the decisions that have been made for them try to find their way out of their constraints but end up finding that those constraints might actually not be that bad. But does love conquer all?
Set in a small village in the Regency period, this is a good depiction of a time when a good reputation can be damaged by a secret, when young women pregnant out of wedlock are ostracized and being of a noble and rich family carries a lot of weight. Husband-hunting mamas, complacent fathers, condescending relatives, a society divided by money and social position, all these are present in the story, giving it an Austen-like aura. The dialogue is simple; the writing – while trying to be true to the time, is devoid of too many flourishes, which to be honest, I wanted more of; the story moves along at a brisk pace.
Normally, I’m not a romance fan. I like my stories darker, with more than a pinch of suspense and possibly with death lurking in the shadows. Drama, twists and sudden turns, secrets and dangerous situations, this is what I enjoy in a novel. Some purple prose doesn’t hurt either. While some of these ingredients can be found in The Vagabond Vicar, this is an easy to read, sweet and pretty straightforward novel. I would have liked to get to know the characters better, to have more details about William’s family and Cecelia’s mother, also the arrogant and careless Mr Barrington (according to the author, a sequel about Mr Barrington might be a possibility). There were a couple of twists at the end but mostly you can see where the story is going. Perhaps this forms the backbone of a romance novel, perhaps my love for horror has made me hungry for something more substantial to dig into. However, if you love a light romance story, you wouldn’t be wrong in choosing this little novel.
I got this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. You can find more details on her website. The Vagabond Vicar is her first novel.
My rating: 3/5 stars
Read in December 2014