THE SONGBIRD by Marcia Willett


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A young man quits his marketing job at a London publishing company and rents a cottage in the English countryside in this gentle family saga by the prolific Willett (Seven Days in Summer, 2017, etc.).

Tim claims he's taking a sabbatical, but in fact, he's been diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease. Uncertain about his future and nursing a secret passion for his co-worker Mattie, he takes her up on an offer to move into a cottage on an estate where her family lives in the country west of Exeter. A second cottage is occupied by Mattie's sister, Charlotte, who's fretting that her naval officer husband Andy's expected promotion may take the couple, their young son, Oliver, and their lovable dog, Wooster, to Washington. A third cottage is home to William, Andy's father, and his cousin Kat, a former ballet dancer. William is separated from his unfaithful architect wife, Fiona, who wants to rent Tim's cottage. The property's gracious converted farmhouse, Brockscombe, has one occupant: Francis Courtney, a retired MP and widower in his 80s, who's somehow related to William and Kat. Francis tells Tim about his long-ago extramarital affair and illegitimate son, Maxie. Tim and Francis share a love of poetry. Tim and Mattie share a picnic followed by sex. Mattie, Charlotte, William, Kat and Fiona drive to and from the cottages thinking about conversations they've had. The point of view shifts with jarring frequency and no discernible difference in voice. Kat's love interest—Jerry or Jeremy, depending on which woman he's with—is torn between free-spirited Kat and traditional Sandra. A tidy ending affirms traditional old-fashioned values.

A sentimental, slow-paced morality tale with a few sheep and lots of flowers.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-17741-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2018


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