Hailed as the new Rosamunde Pilcher, Marcia Willett has some big
shoes to fill --- but she doesn't disappoint her readers. In A WEEK
IN WINTER she brings us an easy escape into the English countryside
and takes us on a pleasant romp between London and Cornwall. Her
full characters draw us into their lives, at the middle of which
lies an old family farmhouse appropriately named Moorgate.
Lady Todhunter, aka Maudie, finds herself a bit light on funds
after her husband's estate leaves her puzzling over a missing stock
portfolio. The only solution to her financial woes seems to be to
sell her stepchildren's holiday house perched on the edge of the
Cornish moors. To Maudie's surprise, a decent number of potential
buyers show interest in owning Moorgate, among them her
stepdaughter Selina, plus the contractor hired to restore the old
building, and a young woman with an avid appreciation for the
simpler things in life. The race begins to see who can put the
package together first.
In an interesting twist, it is the stepdaughter who is the wicked
one, hating and resenting Maudie from the instant she married her
father decades before. Selina cannot understand this insensitive
betrayal of her dead mother's memory and refuses to look beyond her
overriding, selfish feelings. Her biting tongue lashes out acid
words, wearing down all around her. As a person who never sees the
positive side of a situation, Selina misinterprets nearly
everyone's intentions. Unable to see the world through confident
eyes, she views her own daughter, Posy, as a traitor for caring
about her grandmother –-- or, step grandmother, as she
would be quick to point out.
Fortunately, Posy inserts a youthful sanity into Lady Todhunter's
life, with the small exception of a large dog that she
"temporarily" lodges with Maudie. Polonius, an affable English
mastiff with an impish bent for mischief, interjects chuckles
throughout the conflicts kicked up by the house sale. He provides a
ready excuse for granddaughter to make frequent weekend visits and
to steer clear of her mum's contentious attitude as much as
possible, despite Posy's attempts at buoying Selina's
The house sells, leaving the successful buyer with bittersweet
memories and the other suitors with empty dreams. But the new owner
has plans no one else knows about.
Willett's writing is as solid as Moorgate. She weaves a tale of
love lost and love found. Focusing on one week in winter, the lives
of these characters --- both contented and miserable --- intersect,
bifurcate and blend. Nagging little mysteries unfold and resolve,
all whilst relationships bud, blossom, wither or die.
An intricate, cozy tale, A WEEK IN WINTER needs to be savored from
a favorite, comfortable old chair. Brew a spot of tea and sink deep
into the overstuffed cushions, relax and lose yourself for a
winter's week at Moorgate.
-- Reviewed by Kate Ayers
A Week in Winter