Voices on the Waves
If you put ten disparate people—strangers to each other—in a semi-isolated small inn for two weeks, you might end up with a fascinating tale. Indeed, that’s exactly what you’ll find in this remarkable debut novel by Jessica Chambers, a variation on the English Country House Party plot. They range in age from early twenties to seventy-something’s, and every social strata imaginable.
Faye, the owner of the house, has, for her own reasons, conducted a competition offering the winners a two-week, all-expense paid stay. From the entrants, she chooses nine people: 5 men, 4 women. Patrick is middle-aged, while Rex is the oldest gentleman, but they have different requirements for their happiness. Patrick requires whiskey – the more the better – while Rex loves to work at crossword puzzles, except he’s not very capable at them. Marcus is a 40-ish multi-millionaire, always looking for the next thrill, whether woman or property (sometimes both at once!) Of the two younger guys, Will is an illustrator for children’s books and Anjum is a restaurateur with a secret. The youngest woman, Leah (with her own secret) works for a doctor, while Tiffany is drop-dead gorgeous, not too intelligent, and married to a man she greatly under appreciates. The bold 40-ish Karenza is an interior decorator, whereas Bronwyn is a lonely older woman, a nurse retired against her will and currently at loose ends.
Of these, a couple are over-the-top, but they help to establish the others as sensible in their dreams and intentions. You could meet any of them at any time, and recognize them immediately, so well has the author delineated them by habits and speech patterns. The house itself is in Cornwall; on the coast.
Unfortunately for the book it is terribly mislabeled. It is categorized as ‘romance’ by the publisher, which might well drive away the exact audience that would love the book if it were designated as mainstream fiction. The book has engaging characters (even the in-your-face ones), a well-done plot with surprises here and there, a lovely setting which the author (being English) uses to great advantage. She also uses the English language the way I most like – real words rather than profanity everywhere.
To be sure, there is a love story in here (maybe two or even three) but none of them is the main element of the actual plot. It is, just simply, an engrossing and very enjoyable work of fiction.
I really, truly liked this book a lot, and will happily recommend it with no reservations whatsoever to any reader I know. I believe men could as easily enjoy this book as women, and, in fact, might even learn a few essentials in the process.
|Red Rose Publishing
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