Friday, February 7, 2014

The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz

This was an interesting story that kept my attention!  Jane has lived in New York City all her life, the last sixteen with her husband and their three kids.  She loves her job and the pace of the city. Her husband is from England and when their daughter starts hanging out with the wrong crowd, he talks Jane into moving back to England, to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.  He buys a drafty old vicarage, which is very different from their modern apartment in New York.  Jane figures it's his turn to choose where they live, but she can't seem to make an effort to fit in.  It's quiet, there's nothing to do, she doesn't have a job she loves anymore, and she's realizing how absent she was as a parent but isn't sure quite how to fix it.  Her teenage daughter is having almost as hard a time and Ben seems to be having troubles in school.  Her marriage is also suffering.  When she finds an old shopping list in the kitchen, she wonders about the woman who wrote it and tries to find out more about the previous tenants. The story moves back and forth in time as we learn about Alice James, a vicar's wife who lived there in the 1930's and '40's.  We read about her courtship, marriage, and struggles to fit in and thrive.

I was pretty annoyed with Jane throughout most of the book.  She seemed like a spoiled brat and cared only about herself.  I'm sure it would be hard to move from a very lively city to such a quiet village in a foreign country, but her attitude just made everything worse.  I was also angry because her attitude affected her family and she didn't seem to care.  I really enjoyed the parts that focused on Alice.  I really liked her and her husband and I found her story so much more satisfying.  I thought more of the story would be about Jane researching Alice and I did wish for more of Alice's story.  I liked how they had some things in common, but the main difference was that Alice had a better attitude and faith in God.  There really wasn't much at all to the spiritual element in the story; there are a few mentions in Alice's story but nothing that really said she had a relationship with God.  Jane and her family go to church once and that's about all.  There were a few swear words I could have done without.  I did like the mix of past and present and how the story ended.  Overall, the good outweighed the bad for me and I liked it more than not.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

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