I was provided this book by Ylva publishing in exchange for an honest review
This is my first Gill McKnight book and I have to say I enjoy her style of writing. I didn't always enjoy her story but I certainly appreciated the quality of her descriptions and written dialogue between major and minor characters set in this small British village south of London.
It's unfortunate that this work must compare to another author's story, Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton, dealing with similar themes of long lost loves and the return of prodigal daughters. Both books were released just ten days apart. Ashton's book had a Welsh country village as its setting almost engulfed by a larger, modern city to its north that also wished to gobble up the historical fun of their neighbor. There were more than a few similarities. I imply nothing but just felt bad for both authors.
There are two mysteries laid out in the beginning. Why on earth did the main characters split up so long ago and what is the historical significance of a small church that seems to be the center of different ley lines in the area. I love how I can now insert "ley lines" into my conversation as I had no idea what the author was initially on about when she referred to them in the story.
So. This is a small village and as always seems to be the fate of small villages, it is packed full of interesting, eccentric characters. We are introduced to Jane Swallow, who is one of the most unsympathetic main characters I've come across. Jane's dog is more interesting and much more humorous. Jane's ex-girlfriend from a "million years ago", Renata, is much more intriguing, actually possessing intellectual pursuits, a sharp wit and humor that she displays continually. It is no wonder that this Renate easily befriends all of Jane's friends as the story progresses, much to the ire of Jane.
As long as this book was not functioning as a romance I quite enjoyed the story and quality of language. As I said, McKnight can write well, capturing a mood or delving out the laughs. If the story was centered on Renate, the story was quite good. Renate's interactions with Jane's friends and the Bishop, Jane's boss, are sometimes hilarious. This Bishop is the funniest Bishop I've yet read about. Renate is a strong person and can easily deal with the idiotic 'villains' in the story. She is also capable of laughing at herself which is a terrific quality in a person.
When the story comes down to Renata's pursuit of Jane the story bogs down and becomes a bit of a drag, going on way too long. Jane being celibate for a decade and a rector in the local church was off putting, for me anyway, and she frequently just appeared to be sullen, probably from being a gay, celibate rector in a small British village. We are not privy to her sermons which could have fleshed out her personality, shown brilliance, wisdom or wit and been a much better introduction to the character. Her dog was more interesting regardless of Jane's Florence Nightingale past. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3