- Author: Marcia Willett
- Published: October 2002 by Headline
- Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
When Maudie Todhunter finally decides she must sell Moorgate, her beautiful farmhouse on the edge of Bodmin Moor, she anticipates strong objections from her family – particularly from Selina, her stepdaughter, with whom she has never seen eye to eye. But no one could have predicted the feelings that Moorgate evokes or the consequences…
I first read this book a good few years ago but didn’t remember much of the story except that I enjoyed it, so I decided to revisit it for Vikki Patis’ Cornish Reading Challenge.
Maudie Todhunter, Hector’s second wife, is recently widowed and has decided to sell Moorgate, the family’s holiday home, for much-needed funds. Her step daughter, Selina, has always hated Maudie through jealousy and her need to always come first. She has never forgiven Maudie for ‘taking her mother’s place’ and is obsessed with the need to possess, whether it’s people or things. Her continued hostility and bitterness eventually takes its toll on her long-suffering family. Selina’s daughter, Posy, and Maudie have formed a strong bond and are very close, adding to Selina’s bitterness and dissatisfaction with what she sees as a personal slight.
Maudie is straightforward and down to earth but has struggled with a festering resentment of everyone telling how perfect Hector’s first wife, Hilda, had been. The perfect mother, wife, cook, friend, so much so she had done her best to make herself the total opposite of Hilda. Hilda’s erstwhile best friend, Daphne, proved to be Maudie’s salvation and their liking for each other grew into a very close, lifelong bond.
…not like Hilda who held it an article of faith that a woman should make the best of herself at all times; who considered it an almost sacred duty to be good-tempered and forbearing at any cost. After a while, when Patricia and Selina made it painfully, cruelly clear that she would never replace their dead mother, Maudie had made it almost a point of honour to be as different from Hilda as it was possible to be.
Rob Abbot, after giving up his engineering job in London and moving to Cornwall, is renovating Moorgate and has fallen in love with the house but when Melissa Clayton comes to stay in the area, for a week during the winter, to view the property Rob finds his priorities changing, along with both their lives. Things will never be the same again for Rob. Neither Rob nor Melissa could have foreseen the effect Moorgate, or each other, would have.
The author has an unpretentious writing style and the book is peopled with mostly likeable and realistic characters, the narrative is from various perspectives which works well within the framework of the story. The descriptions of Cornwall’s beautiful scenery, Bodmin Moor and the farmhouse are enchanting and give a real sense of place. I was hooked into the story again quite quickly.
A tangle of human emotions runs throughout – love, guilt, loss and forgiveness, all the stuff of extended family dynamics, with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Past secrets to be uncovered and a hint of the supernatural.
Now and again an author will move me to tears and, ok maybe it’s a little indulgent, but occasionally a sentimental book, or movie, a glass of wine and a tissue or two is called for.
About the author
Marcia Willett began her career as a novelist when she was fifty years old. Since that first novel Marcia has written twenty more under her own name as well as a number of short stories. She has also written four books under the pseudonym “Willa Marsh”, and is published in more than sixteen countries.
Marcia Willett’s early life was devoted to the ballet, but her dreams of becoming a ballerina ended when she grew out of the classical proportions required. She had always loved books, and a family crisis made her take up a new career as a novelist – a decision she has never regretted. She lives in a beautiful and wild part of Devon where she loves to be visited by her son and young family.