Friday, 25 March 2016
Hester & Harriet - Hilary Spiers
I found this new title reviewed on another blog. The blogger I am long aquainted with - so when she had a few good words to say about this I took a chance. So glad! What a lovely read!
Hester and Harriet are two fiesty widowed sisters who now live together in comfortable near-harmony in rural Hampshire. They love food, they love good wine, they holiday every year in the Scilly Isles (same rooms too), and they don't like excitement. So when, on Christmas day, they find a very young woman with a tiny baby hiding in a disused bus shelter, it would be better perhaps to drive on by. But like the good Samaritan of old, they take these two into their home and on finding that they have a possible illegal immigrant and child to deal with, proceed to try and find out what is going on, what she is so frightened of and who. Almost at the same time, their 15 year old nephew turns up and is not going home either. For a few days, the sisters and Daria, the mother of tiny Milo live uncomfortably with Ben, spotty and single-word conversationalist, until they realise that Daria needs help; Ben needs to get his act together, and they are going to find life more exciting that they really want.
The characters are all well drawn. Spiers has captured the worry of the new mother and her illegal status well, the spotty Ben gains our sympathy early on; the two sisters themselves, like an old married couple, have a charm (and a little spitefulness!) of their own. The lesser characters are also well described, and at around 400 pages this was a great read which has a few laugh out loud moments but does not shy away from the problems some folk face. I saw this described somewhere as a "cosy" - and noted the very British spelling, for it's Americans who use "cozy" and there are a lot of them around with a lot of fans; maybe not so many on this side of the Atlantic. I think the description was right - it is a cosy, and a very British one indeed. Written in the present tense, which suited the story very well, taking place in less than a week between Christmas and New Year. And Ben's world is full of modern idioms - if he wants to know how something works or how it's done, he just Googles it or looks to Youtube. His mobile phone is never out of his hand, and you can just imagine him saying "whatever.....".
I romped through this in a a couple of days. Light it may be, but well written with an utterly believable storyline, and a little subplot which is bang up to date. Great Stuff Hilary Spiers - this will definitely be one of my top ten reads in 2016!