A rector’s wife faces a tough adjustment to Kentish village life.
After a long, lucrative business career in London, Jodie Harcourt unexpectedly finds love when she accompanies a friend on a blind date. Marriage to country parson Theo Welsh has more than its share of challenges. Of course, Jodie could fix up the inadequate kitchen in the dreary rectory with a wave of her MasterCard. She even has the means to rescue the failing village store and reopen the shuttered youth center. But, fearful that the wary villagers will reject a free-spending Lady Bountiful, she confines her efforts to engaging some of Lesser Hogben’s disaffected youth. She hires Bernard Hammond, known to one and all as “Burble,” to clean up the rectory gardens, challenges his friend Malcolm “Mazza” Burns to join her on her daily runs, and invites Mazza’s sister, Martine, to design a village website. Her efforts reap the scorn of the more conservative members of the parish council, particularly poncy vestryman Ted Vesey and perennial naysayer Ida Mountford. Even Elaine Grant, who wins Jodie’s heart by teaching her to bake, expresses doubts about her efforts. And when Burble disappears, taking with him Jodie’s expensive camera, she fears her critics may be right. But she also fears for Burble’s safety, especially after her cousin, ex–DCI Dave Harcourt, is felled by a tripwire while inspecting a local construction site. Is Elysian Fields more than just the installation of cow barns Elaine insists? Jodie must fight her instinct to flee back to her flat in St. John’s Wood to find out.
Once Cutler establishes her throughline about the struggles of a country parson’s wife, she may do better than the perfunctory puzzle she offers in likable Jodie’s debut.