A dual story of a war-time (WW2) vicar’s wife and a modern-day wife who is struggling with balancing career and the appeal of a city life, with the desire of her husband to move back home to the English countryside.
Jane decides she hates the new home in the country. It is drafty and cold, and the lifestyle is (putting it bluntly) boring, compared to her old life in the city. She discovers an old paper with some writing on it when she is cleaning the pantry and her curiosity is piqued. Who lived in this house and wrote that list? The story unfolds as she seeks to find answers both to her personal dilemma and the past.
“As winter deepened its hold on the Cumbrian countryside Jane dived into her new life with determined cheer. No longer was she going to resist every change or inconvenience, bemoan the lack of local amenities or the endlessly grey weather. She stopped fantasizing about a decent takeaway and disciplined herself not to check the weather in New York, or compare it to the dark, windy days in Goswell.”
“The Vicar’s Wife” was interesting and at times, maybe a little simplistic (as the story unfolds it is fairly predictable) but I enjoyed reading about life in the country and the way it was contrasted with American-city life. The author has chosen a difficult topic, as many readers will empathise with Jane’s desire to retain her career and juggle her responsibilities as a wife and mother. However, I did feel the problem was solved far too easily and with little explanation (since most of the story was drawn out until suddenly….Jane has made her decision).
“Do you not want to work any more? Is that why you stopped?”
“Well – ” Jane broke off before she’d even formed a reply because the truth was, she didn’t know what to say. Did she not want to work any more? Certainly not the crazy, consuming hours she’d had in New York, but forget work completely? Forever?
“I stopped because we moved here Merrie,” she said at last, keeping her voice cheerful and mild. “And I’m glad for the break.”
“But you’ll go back? One day?” Merrie sounded anxious, and Jane couldn’t tell if it was at the thought of her going back to work – or not going back.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if I could find the kind of job I’m suited for here. ” West Cumbria wasn’t exactly brimming with employment opportunities.
Jane irritated me at times, as I found her behavior a bit too much to put up with! Certainly she has lots of adjustments to make, but sometimes it does get a little tiresome reading yet another episode of her complaining about the weather…. (and as my kids would say, ‘suck it up, buttercup!’ : ) Andrew, her husband, also comes with his own idiosyncrasies. From seeming to change from a sudden decision to move the entire family back to England (autocratic?) to being the perfect husband who allows his wife to return to New York for a month and pick up her old life with barely a quibble….well, there are some ‘stretches’ in the novel. However, I found “The Vicar’s Wife” to be a fast read and enjoyable, and it is well worth a summer read on the lawn with a nice cup of ice tea (or on a rainy day with a cup of hot tea!)