Bringing the requisite wit and compassion to her attempt to walk in the footsteps of the venerable, pseudonymous ``Miss Read,'' first-time novelist Purser creates an amiable, delightfully gossipy novel set in a quaint English village. A few up-to-date touches (relatively unblinking looks at adultery and mental illness, for instance) place the story firmly in the present day without diminishing its cozy charm. When her husband, Frank, loses his job, resourceful Peggy Palmer suggests that they use Frank's severance pay to buy a village shop in a small town. Half a year later, the Palmers-both in their mid-50s-leave their suburban home in Coventry to run Round Ringford's village store and post office. Their new circle of acquaintances soon includes such neatly drawn characters as crabby, unwelcoming Ivy Beasley; Sheila Pearson, the feisty District Councillor whose proposed housing development creates dissension in the village; and Susan Standing, the miserable but arrogant wife of the local Lord of the Manor. For Peggy, the most important new relationship is her burgeoning friendship with Bill Turner, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her feelings for Bill take on an altered significance when tragedy occurs, forcing Peggy to make many important decisions. Numerous subplots convey the vitality and complexity of village life, and an upbeat, satisfyingly romantic conclusion-complete with sequel-inspiring cliffhanger-will leave readers eager for further installments. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1995 Release date: 02/01/1995 Genre:
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