A Leap of Faith by Trisha Ashley
Sappho Jones, at the centre of this lively and well written book, has a past, present and future. Brought up by a remarkable pair of women, she has travelled extensively on her own and is a successful writer of travel guides and a fantasy author. Her present is marked by her friendships, including Bob who runs a creative school on a Greek island and several women with whom she was at university. Her future is suddenly determined by her realisation that it is her thirty ninth birthday, and the only adventure that she has not tried is motherhood. Not that she wants a relationship with a man at present; she is still pursued by Dave, a photographer who she was involved with at college and who will not take no for an answer. Sappho is a remarkable woman who has a vivid imagination and sees some of the people around her in terms of her characters, which adds to the humour of an already very funny book. Even her name is a memory of an ancient poet who jumped from a cliff, but Sappho has far too much to live for despite her tendency to stand on cliff edges; she has a cottage in Wales that has just become vacant and as it is near to her friend Miranda’s house she intends to collect up her possessions and move in. The novel is a story of a momentous time in Sappho’s life as she aids and abets her friends to change their lives, only to discover that her own lifestyle and choices become strangely affected by one of her characters come to life.
Sappho is a striking woman, tall and with very long hair, and she is instantly recognisable. With a firm independent streak she pays her own way with her not inconsiderable income, and can advise and help her friends. As she moves into her cottage in the memorably named Bedd, she discovers that a very determined woman, Dorinda, has disappeared in mysterious circumstances leaving her husband Gil under some suspicion. Miranda is distraught as her tv chef husband, Chris, who has always used her recipes, has sent her to Wales to live in her inherited cottage as she no longer fits in with his image. Sappho encourages her to rebel against him, especially when it seems he may be setting up situations which make her doubt her sanity. Another friend, Mu, is happily married to Ambler, an adventurer, but wants a baby more than anything. Meanwhile Lili is a woman who is determined to attract Nye, a potter who lives in Bedd, which leads to some interesting situations. As parties and more happen in the small village there is no secrecy, so odd events create a lot of interest. Sappho of course is often at the centre of them.
This is an enjoyable book in lots of ways, and there is a lot of fun in the story of a remarkable woman who is convinced of what she wants, until things change. As always with Ashley’s books, there is a community of friends which plays the part of a family, and each character is carefully drawn with great depth. As one of her older books there is a shortage of contemporary references to computers and phones except in passing, but this book is none the less a strong read which much to recommend it. It is a funny, dramatic and engaging read which I really enjoyed.
As always, Trisha has written a book with a strong female lead who has come to a point where she must make a decision. it is a lovely read, a comfort read in several ways, and very entertaining. Just the thing for a sometimes grey August!