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Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors


Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors

Reading occasionally like a fairy tale and other times like a
social satire, FARM FATALE, the third novel by Wendy Holden, is the
story of one young woman and her search for happiness in the
English countryside.

The lives of two couples, Rosie and Mark, and Samantha and Guy,
collide in Eight Mile Bottom, a less than idyllic rural village.
Each couple moves from London to the country for various reasons
(two of them, believe it or not, for career advancement). However,
once there, they all are surprised by what they find

Samantha, a second-rate and egotistical actress finds the ghosts in
her centuries-old manor are more entertaining and popular than she
is. Her husband Guy wakes up from a heart attack to find she has
sold their home in London; he longs for the city and for the
relationship with his daughter that he had long neglected. Mark, a
struggling journalist, hopes his column depicting life in the
country will be his big break, but he finds nothing newsworthy in
Eight Mile Bottom. His girlfriend Rosie, on the other hand, is
happy to be far from the noise and pollution of London, gardening
and getting to know her eccentric new neighbors. Her work as an
illustrator takes her to the most interesting locations in the
village, from Spitewinter Farm to Ladymead Estate (home of
reclusive rock star Matt Locke).

Surrounded by movie stars, racing chickens, ghosts, grumpy farmers,
mail order brides, and a very nosy postman, Rosie tries to find
peace, quiet, and true love in the country. Like a simpler and
shallower Bridget Jones, Rosie is interested in several men
throughout the novel. However, Holden never allows Rosie the real
introspection that would allow her to learn from past mistakes or
the reader to discover anything meaningful about her. Thus, the
reader has a difficult time truly caring about Rosie, although her
story is entertaining.

FARM FATALE is also, and more interestingly, a glimpse into an
eccentric village the likes of which, Holden suggests, is not only
misunderstood but is also endangered. It looks at the culture clash
of city versus country. It suggests that even short distances
create huge differences. Many of the characters start out in the
city but are drawn to the country where they eventually find
happiness. Other city-folk infiltrate the country for all the wrong
reasons, only to be rejected by the people and the landscape.

The quick, witty and often sarcastic tone of the novel is slightly
off-putting at first but endearing by the end, as the characters
shed all pretenses and their true selves are revealed. For some,
like Mark and Samantha, the country only brings out the worst in
their already horrible personalities. For others, like Rosie, the
country encourages creativity and happiness. Unfortunately, not
even Rosie can break free from the shallow values of Holden's
novel, where looks and money count for more than personality. For
the most part Rosie is a humble and likable character and readers
will cheer at her moments of clarity. Those moments are, however,
too few, and Rosie, like all the characters found in the novel,
remains essentially two-dimensional. Holden is unable to fully
bring to life Rosie and the other characters.

Still, FARM FATALE is a light, sexy and entertaining novel.
Although it falls short of romantic, it takes the single girl
seeking love motif and moves it to an interesting geography. Cute
rather than clever, this is an easy read and will please fans of
contemporary and comic romances.

Reviewed by Sarah Egelman on January 21, 2011

Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors
by Wendy Holden

  • Publication Date: February 26, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452283027
  • ISBN-13: 9780452283022