Friday, August 10, 2012

Part of the Spell
By Rachel Heath

For We Love This Book

This is a follow up to The Finest Type of English Womanhood which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Rachel Heath has opted to move away from historical fiction to examine the dark threads which underlie and hold together small town English life in the 21st Century. There are many characters in the novel and one of the novel’s failings is that we never really get to know any of them. The picture that Rachel Heath presents is a little too broad with glimpses into the lives of a group of people all living in the same place and connected by the disappearance of Sheila; a local mum and grandmother. There is the day dreamy young mum Stella, the busy museum curator Theresa, the disappointed city worker Jonathan, the secretive estate agent Zeki and the angry blogger Tacita. Gradually all the characters are pulled together as the author examines the hopes and ideals behind their search for “the good life” and Stella seeks to understand why her mother kept so many secrets. This is a story that seems to skim along the surface rather than plum the depths; it never truly engaged my attention. It might appeal to fans of Emily Barr or Maggie O’Farrell though I feel it falls short of the standard of either.

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