DON’T YOU JUST LOVE A ROSAMUNDE PILCHER NOVEL?
Don’t you just love Rosamund Pilcher? You sink into one of her novels much like sinking into an old leather chair that fits your round parts, just right. You are enfolded by her words, feeling at peace in the charm of slightly musty old ‘estate houses’, or centuries old stone cottages with hundred-years-old agas, wee gardens rambling and just a bit neglected but interspersed with fragrance and gentle colour. They have deep windowsills that invite you to sit with a cuppa and watch life go by in some quaint English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish village.
“Come in, Dear, and have a bit of tea.” So welcoming. So kind, without superfluous busyness. So down-to-earth without any naivety; experienced in life’s ways but not hardened.
But never think for one moment that life is dull in a RP novel. Oh no! It is filled with unexpected turns, convoluted families woven as intricately as the hedgerow-lined country roads.
I can actually feel my blood pressure lower from the first page of her satisfying stories. There is always an abundance of drama – a death from rather normal injuries, a child misunderstood, marriage difficulties dealt with in civilized and not so civilized ways. But every event and every circumstance is written of, in a calm, sensitive, and often humorous way. None of the frantic suspense and artery-squeezing drama found in most contemporary novels. Adept Rosamunde deals with life’s tragedies and sadness in a proper, practical, intelligent, empathetic and often unexpected way.
How inspiring and delightful it would be, to become a Rosamunde Pilcher character, even for a while. That is my dream. Ever since I travelled the lives of the characters in her first novel, “The Shell Seekers” (in the 1970’s, was it?), she has taken my breath away. Living in her pages is at once comfortable and comforting. Rosamunde (such a quaint, old-country, thoroughly appropriate name) deals with love, tender and worn; with loss, death and grieving so adeptly that while reading, you think, “Oh, so that is how you do it, or rather, That is how one should do it.”
Real emotions are explored without today’s presumptuous rules and must-do’s, but rather, R.P. carries her readers along in the characters’ cozy kitchens, drawing rooms (who has drawing rooms any more) or in their cars bouncing along the meandering British roads, experiencing the warmth of a blazing hearth, or the chill of a wind-swept Scottish golf course, or big city shopping and restaurants, and one delights in unexpected side-trips to Austria or Australia, or France, all the while experiencing the story of each character’s life. Even bitchy, rude intolerant relatives are dealt with, sometime by ignoring their idiosyncrasies but more often, deftly, with clever, creative evasion tactics. These usually result in a satisfying, happy adventure or conclusion without the self-absorbed boor being castigated and belittled, nor in fact, even aware of other characters’ aversion to their insensitivities. Rosamunde Pilcher’s approach is a realistic one since narcissistic people are seldom aware of their own shortcomings. So the reader is delighted, cheering every down-trodden character’s secret, innovative victory.
Subtle, clever, effective. I wish some of that subtlety would bounce from the page into my consciousness. Well, it is there, but I don’t seem to know how to execute.
Until recently, I had not read one of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books for many years. The author is not as prolific as she once was. But recently I saw one of hers and picked it up with relish, anticipating the feelings evoked by her writing. I think I shall collect every one of her stories. I dream about a journey to England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland, not simply to visit, but to rent a very old stone cottage, live there for a month or two, walk my little dog for pleasure and exercise (I yearn for a companionable Bijon or Shih Tzu), become acquainted, even involved with the town people and their lives, paint and perhaps even write my own novel.