Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"The Vicar's Wife" by Katharine Swartz

Jane Hatton has lived in New York her whole life. The bustling streets and busy city life is all she's ever known. But when her 14 year old daughter, Natalie gets in with the wrong crowd at school, Jane's British husband Andrew suggests moving back to where he grew up. All the way to a small village on the Cumbrian coast.

Natalie hates the new adjustment and starts doing poorly in her new school, and Ben seems to be struggling as well with his studies. Only her youngest, Merrie, seems to be thriving and even loving her new environment.

In addition to dealing with her children's adjustments, Jane must face the reality that she cannot lead the same life she did back in New York. Can she live somewhere where she is not a working woman? Jane is so used to running from one place to the next, ordering takeout every other night, and passing her children off for someone else to take care of.

Amidst every other difficulty Jane is facing, her husband suggests that she add some homey touches to their new home (which is actually an ancient vicarage). Jane feels that if she really bears down and decorates the old vicarage, that her situation is somehow more permanent and she will be unable to return home. While cleaning out the kitchen, Jane finds an old grocery list and is suddenly consumed with figuring out who wrote it. She finds that the writer of the note is not unlike herself in many ways, and Jane comes to realize that everyone deals with struggles, but it is how we react to them that really matters.

It took me a bit to get into this book, but after awhile it really got interesting! Especially when Jane finds out who wrote the grocery list and she sees that their lives were parallel in many ways. The only thing I disliked about this book is that I felt that Jane was a rather selfish person who was constantly putting her own needs in front of others. She really didn't have much of a relationship with her children before moving to England, and she actually didn't even know much about them. She couldn't care less that the big move to England was better for everyone, including herself. For the first couple of months that Jane spent in England, she spent it acting as a spoiled child not getting her own way. So if you haven't guessed, I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, BUT I did enjoy the story itself and the realizations Jane finally draws at the end of the book. Throughout it all, Jane learns to become an involved parent who cares deeply about her children.

I rate this book as 3 stars. The story was interesting, and I especially found myself drawn to the chapters that involved Alice (the person who wrote the grocery list), but I just could not relate to Jane in any way.

I received this book for free from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

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