I used to read a lot of Marcia Willett’s books, but haven’t done so for a good while. This was one of my favourites and reminds me to check out some of the author’s works that I haven’t read.
Maudie Todhunter, Hector’s second wife, was 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.
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 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. (I felt that way at the time of reading…and still do.)
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…