The story begins with Grace Palmer, a down-on-her-luck interior designer, she's a Brit living in San Francisco with her husband James. Before you can say "Keep Calm and Carry On", Grace finds out James cheated on her with her - only - client, confronts him, packs up her bags and goes back to England.
My initial reaction was "Wait a sec, let the man talk! Don't be hasty!" but as soon as Grace arrives in England I thought "James Who?". The way Pauline describes her home-coming is like an insider re-discovering her roots. The narrative is so detailed and intimate that I felt like I was experiencing things, like the chaos of Heathrow, as an every day occurrence.
Grace decides to live in the country for awhile and by chance ends up in a small town called Saffron Sweeting - I Googled it, the town doesn't exist, darn - nevertheless, this place will turn out to be exactly what she needed!
She begins to form a life, get a place to live and work, meet new friends and she finds her niche. Turns out, the town is full of extremely homesick American ex-pats and Grace is the bridge between the Americans who want to spend $$ and the English who wouldn't mind the ££ to keep their business afloat and thriving.
Here is where I get conflicting emotions, as an ardent anglophile I want her to stay in England, describe more of her life and sigh while I imagine myself there. As a romantic, I get worried she is being too hard on James and I feel for him, during the course of the story he keeps popping up. He's very sorry and truly wants her back, my heart breaks for him and I get concerned because Grace is trying to move on and actually begins dating!
The story is full of nuggets of interesting details, adorable characters and a plot that will keep you guessing what will Grace decide at the end. This is a great debut novel by Pauline Wiles, I am very grateful for the advance copy I received and be assured that my love for this book is truly my own.
I have a few more questions about England and Saffron Sweeting on the Interview with the Author.
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