Country Plot – Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Jenna Freemont has had a terrible Monday. She loses her job as a feature writer & arrives home to find her boyfriend, Patrick, in bed with another woman. Jenna packs up her things & goes to stay with her brother & his family. Suddenly she finds herself without a job or a home & heartbroken into the bargain. Jenna’s family decide she needs to find a job that’s like a holiday & she is persuaded to spend a few weeks with a distant relation, Kitty Everest. Kitty lives in an almost stately home, Holtby House, in the country. She’s a widow, living on a limited income & reluctantly planning to sell the house because she can’t afford the upkeep. Jenna’s job is to help catalogue the contents & get the place ready for sale.

Jenna & Kitty hit it off immediately & Jenna becomes determined to find a way to allow Kitty to stay in her home. Kitty’s godson, Alexander (known as Xander), also lives in the village & makes a living restoring furniture. He’s immediately suspicious of Jenna’s motives & his reception is frosty. Xander’s girlfriend, Caroline, known to Jenna as the Ice Queen, is also hostile to Jenna, though whether because she cares about Kitty, is jealous of Xander or for some other motive, isn’t clear. Caroline is very keen to foster Jenna’s relationship with her young step-brother Harry which makes everyone suspicious.

Jenna soon settles in & relaxes into village life – walking with the dogs, riding with Xander whose attitude veers between hostility & cautious friendship, & meeting the locals. Jenna’s idea for saving Kitty’s home involves a lot of work & commitment from everyone & her yearnings for Patrick & London life begin to fade away.

Country Plot is a lovely, romantic book for lovers of English country novels. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is one of my favourite contemporary writers. I love her Bill Slider mysteries (the newest book, Blood Never Dies, has just been published) & I’ve also read several of her stand alone romantic novels. There are definite echoes of Pride & Prejudice in the relationship between Jenna & Xander (his girlfriend’s surname could easily be Bingley rather than Russell) & their friendship grows gradually in spite of misunderstandings. The supporting characters are also a lot of fun. The garrulous Mad Enderby at the farm shop, Bill, Kitty’s loyal gardener & tenant & his wife, Fatty & the dogs, Watch & Barney. If you’re a fan of Katie Fforde or Jill Mansell, I think you’d enjoy Country Plot.

4 thoughts on “Country Plot – Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

  1. Sounds like the perfect book to ease away those post hurricane Sandy blues. đŸ™‚

    I'm putting this on my Christmas list immediately.

    I've read every Bill Slider book I could get my hands on over the years – it is one of my favorite series beginning way back when. I'm always amazed that there are so many people who have never heard of it, Lyn. It's up to us to spread the word.

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  2. I agree, Yvette. I've been reading CHE since the early 80s. Maybe if you're not a library user you might not have heard of her, especially in the early days. Now there can't be a public library without a shelf full of her books, she's written so much.

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  3. Oh yes, the Russian trilogy was very good too. Always a reliably entertaining writer, I think. I've just got hold of the new Bill Slider so I have that to look forward to as well.

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