September by Rosamunde Pilcher
This year I seem to have finally got my act together with reading appropriate books at appropriate times. From Jane Eyre on Yorkshire Day, namesake birthdays and even Back to School books for the start of term, I am truly on fire. (It won't last!) Rosamunde Pilcher is one of those novelists who I read each year with the seasons; The Shell Seekers for Summer, Winter Solstice for Christmas and September for Autumn, although this has been read in the past anywhere from May through to November.
It was truly lovely to greet this old friend again. It is a 'tome' at just over 600 pages. Please don't let that put you off, you'll race through it. Just a quick note, Noel Keeling is one of the children of Penelope Keeling who features in 'The Shell Seekers'. You do not have to read this before tackling 'September'.
The novel follows 2 old Scottish families - the Airds and the Balmerinos in the lead up to a rather grand 21st birthday party of one of their neighbours. The Airds face a difference of opinion over the schooling of their young son, Henry, which will threaten their marriage, especially with the reappearance of an old friend. Their daughter Alexa is bringing home her first serious relationship and his intentions are questioned.
For the Balmerinos, Archie is still coming to terms with his former army career after being left with a life-changing injury. And then suddenly out of the blue Archie's sister, Pandora, former wild child agrees to come home and attend the party after 20 years away.
Rosamunde Pilcher is an author who it is common to label incorrectly. For many she is seen as a book for elderly people and slightly 'fuddy duddy'., but for those who take a chance on her novels, they quickly fall in love with her writing and her characters. She is so huge in Germany that tours are organised to the UK to visit the locations of her books. What can I say? Once you discover Rosamunde Pilcher you will come to appreciate what a brilliantly written family saga looks like. Indeed Winter Solstice features in My Top 10.
September is no exception. The writing is wonderful. She has an uncanny ability to pack enormous amounts of detail into every page, whilst keeping the writing crisp and elegant and never becoming too dull. The characters are fascinating. Pandora has something of the fae about her, impossible to pin down, like trying to hold smoke. My favourite character is Vi, the matriarch of the families, solid, dependable and secret keeper for young and old.
The build up to the party is like watching a modern day Downton Abbey, whilst there is no Carson or Mrs Hughes, we do become engaged in the glamorous dresses to be worn, courses of meals to be enjoyed, candles to be lit and rather grand bacon and egg breakfasts to be enjoyed after too many whiskies the night before.
The pace is gentle and the book is an excellent family saga. If you are looking for a cosy Autumn read then this is a fine addition to the bookshelf. Pour yourself a whiskey, get your candles lit, snuggle under a warm blanket and enjoy.