I’ve been reading a lot of Christmas books recently, and it almost made me forget how much I love a cosy autumn book as well. A Village Affair, though? This one brought that straight back to the front of my mind!
I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.
Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns. So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction . He has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.
As if that weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the forefront of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.
But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…
It’s incredible how much live can change just from the end of summer to the start of winter. Cassandra – Cassie – Moonbeam experiences that to the full, though. Just imagine: it’s days before she starts her first day as the second in command of her local primary school. She discovers – in possibly the most public way possible – that her husband has been cheating on her. For two years. With her best friend. And just as she thinks things can’t possibly get any worse? Well, that’s when the head of the school dies unexpectedly and she finds herself now the first in command of her local primary school. How’s that for a first day at work?
Now, Cassie is in no way perfect. She breaks down, gets a bit selfish at times, can even show her age in her thoughts on marriage and sexuality. At the same time, though, she doesn’t hesitate to put her children and her job first. Sure, she absolutely exhausts herself in doing so, but I couldn’t help but sympathise with the way she handled everything thrown at her. And believe me – if you thought the first couple of chapters saw every type of twists you could possibly come across? Well, you’re in for a couple more surprises.
What I loved about Julie Houston’s writing throughout all of this, is how naturally she allows the story to flow. I’m usually really not a fan of first-person-narratives, but somehow she got me to enjoy it throughout this book. The flashbacks from Cassie’s mum’s perspective certainly added an extra layer and managed to introduce the number one twist I did not see coming. Like, at all.
Add to all that the exquisite descriptions. The never-won fight putting “progress for progress’ sake” against the wish to “not change what isn’t broken”, and the way Cassie grew in so many aspects, not only as a mum, a head teacher, a friend, but just: as a person? And you find yourself with a book I fell asleep reading and just had to get back to as soon as I woke up. You know – as one does!
The rating: 3.75/5
I think it’s pretty clear now that I really enjoyed this book. It’s the kind of read that beautifully transforms from late summer into all the beauty of fall to the very start of crispy winter. The utter feel-good element as well as Cassie’s powerful transformation? That’s just added bonus’, really!
Find it on Goodreads here!