The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson
A lovely story based around a school in a village in Cornwall in the build up to Christmas, this book also has some wonderful characters to add to those who have appeared in previous books in this genuinely positive novel. Not that the other books need to be read before this one can be enjoyed; this novel features Alice, a teaching assistant and Dan, the Vicar, who have only been mentioned in passing in previous stories. Alice is committed to the local village church, but knows that the attractive, single Vicar is a definite additional attraction. Dan is undoubtedly attracted to Alice, but has significant issues from his past to cope with before he can commit to a relationship. Another new character is Annie, Dan’s grandmother, who has a wicked sense of humour and good intentions when it comes to fostering her grandson’s well being. The local school where Alice works also provides a welcome element of humour when a nativity play is in the offing, a standard provider of comic comments and behaviour from young children. Marion, chair of the PTA is also challenged in new ways, and contributes to the lively dynamic of this most enjoyable book. This is a novel which amuses, distracts and continues a wonderful series of books.
Dan and Alice have known each other for two years when she receives a call from him one evening asking her to come and rescue him and Ethel, one of his parishioners. When she races around to do so, what she discovers affords her and Dan a great deal of laughter. Their relationship is mutually on the edge, both feeling the attraction but frightened to take action. The focus then transfers to the school, as Alice reflects on the true nature of the teachers, and in time the beginnings of a squabble in the staffroom. Dan meanwhile hears troubling news from his grandmother, which makes him think about their relationship. When Alice subsequently gets into difficulties, speculation increases about her relationship with Dan. She discovers one of his big worries regarding the church, and resolves to do something about it. Meanwhile a situation develops which will test Alice’s sympathies, just as she struggles to come to terms with her self image. Several plans are made throughout the novel which are not always successful, and some people get hurt in the process.
This is a lovely book which brings to life some of the things that happen in small villages, even in contemporary times. It deals in an interesting and accurate way with what life can be in a church community, and the situations which can emerge with lively good humour. I really enjoyed reading this book, which presents a contemporary clergyman as more than a cliche and as a real person. Alice also copes well with everything that is thrown at her, in set piece meetings with various people throughout the novel, in an actual fight and the challenges set by groups of people, especially children. This is a positive story which also manages to deal with difficult moments and some of the problems of life. I recommend this book for the story, the characters and the humour, as an enjoyable and clever novel.
I was so pleased to get my hands a copy of this book, having read the previous three books in the series. Until recently it has only been available as an ebook, which I don’t read, so I was really pleased to hear from the author, via twitter, that it was coming out in paperback. In the circumstances I had to wait for the opportunity to actually get a copy, and I am so pleased that I did. I believe the final book in the series goes paperback in the next few months, so that is something to look forward to after Christmas.