Looking for something to read over the weekend?
Nothing on your book radar screaming read me?
Then take a look at my Five Star Friday pick. It may be old, it may be new. But it is a book that is special to me , one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.
She steps down from the carriage into the yard. Behind the snort of horses and whispers of wind, there is silence. It clings to the branches of the trees, hides in the hedges and the nooks of walls, seeping out again when the murmured words between her husband, William Holland, and the coachman cease. Moonlight spills down between broken clouds. There is the Rectory, their new home. No welcoming light at the window, only a lantern hanging by a closed front door. And over there, the church, the purpose of their life here, silhouetted against the sky, headstones set around it like crooked teeth.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, the novel is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.
MY THOUGHTS:🌌🌌🌌🌌.5 brilliant stars for the Huntingfield Paintress. I empathised with Mildred (Millie to her adoring husband). She and William have spent many years travelling Europe gathering ideas for when their living, purchased for them by William’s uncle, at Huntingfield parish will be theirs.
But just because you dream longingly of something doesn’t mean that when it actually happens you will like it. Mildred feels isolated in Huntingfield. The people are largely parochial and seem boring to Mildred. They have led narrow insulated lives and love to gossip. They accept her help, but at the same time resent her for it. They are suspicious of her and her ‘foreign ideas’ including that of hand-washing to stop the spread of infection. And they are nothing less than ‘shocked’ when Mildred decides to paint the church ceiling after the fashion of the great European churches and to adorn it with angels, especially when she elects to dress like a man for her work as it is far more practical. She manages to make only one friend Anne, who then shuns her when she goes ahead with her painting.
But not everyone is prepared to pass her off as eccentric and leave her to get on with it. She has enemies in the fold. Those who wish to stop her. And will go to any lengths to do so.
This is a gentle book that slowly enfolds you like a warm blanket. The writing is beautiful and evocative of the era. While The Huntingfield Paintress is fiction, it is based on truth and the author has done her research well.
THE AUTHOR: Pamela Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to England. She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014 and published her first novel The Huntingfield Paintress in 2016. Pamela lives in London with her husband, acclaimed cartoonist Kipper Williams.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Netgalley and Urbane Publications for providing a digital ARC of the Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1626493626