...captivating...will evoke for readersand not unintentionallyRosamund Pilcher's The Shell Seekers...
When a publisher declares that it is attempting to replicate the success of Rosamunde Pilcher, it becomes fair game, requiring readers to assess the accuracy of such a claim. The Shell Seekers was Pilcher's blockbuster American debut, following the mild success of a string of slight, light romances in her native England. Similar backstory and hopes follow Willett, whose saga revolves around a matriarch and a house. Now in her 70s and widowed, Maudie Todhunter decides to sell Moorgate, the family farmhouse in Cornwall. Opposing her is stepdaughter Selina, who has never forgiven Maudie for marrying her father after the death of her beloved mother 30 years earlier. Two romantic subplots and a few family secrets waiting to come out can't save this thin, treacly fare, in which even the lone antagonist eventually develops a heart. Though Maudie herself is appealing, she simply isn't an intriguing enough heroine to center a novel on, since most of her time is spent obsessing about the past and talking to her dog. Willett is no Pilcher and her American debut is no Shell Seekers, but if the publisher is correct in assuming that in these troubled times readers are in the mood to curl up with the literary equivalent of a hot-water bottle, this title should satisfy its target market. Major ad/promo. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Moorgate, a farmhouse owned by widow Maudie Todhunter and situated on the edge of Cornwall's Bodmin Moor, is the central character of this charming story. The secondary, human characters revolve around the house; they are buyers, sellers, and renovators, all enchanted by the rural English estate. It is the scene of trysts and dreams and broken hearts, as two couples fall in love at Moorgate and the ashes of one lover are eventually scattered there. In addition, a family friend unearths an old deception related to the house that changes the lives of the characters forever. Matriarch Maudie, who can no longer afford to keep Moorgate herself, is a strong, attractive character, and her stepfamily figures prominently in the plot. English writer Willett, who has published several books in her native country, makes her stateside debut with this story of domestic issues. The publisher is giving this book a big push, knowing that there are scores of readers who will be charmed by Willett's style. Highly recommended for public libraries everywhere. Carol J. Bissett, New Braunfels P.L., TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
A genteel squabble over a Cornwall farmhouse, featuring a cast of many. Maud Todhunter is a diplomat's widow who's left to cope with her dead husband's numerous offspring whether she wants to or not (she was Hector's second wife and they had no children). She wants to sell Moorgate, the fine old house he left her, and retire alone to a small cottage in Devon. But Moorgate holds so many memories, complains Selina, one of Hector's daughters by his first wife, Hilda, that perfect mother who loved to iron-and knit, and polish doorknobs-and whom Maud still resents even though she's now been dead for more than 30 years. Selina has never forgiven Maud for taking her mother's place, and has never shut up about it either. But Posy, her own charming daughter, loves her stepgrandmother, despite Selina's sneering disapproval. And Patrick, Selina's husband, a noble soul, stopped loving his selfish, condescending wife long ago and is having an affair with Mary, a warmhearted woman who struggles to care for her paralyzed son and infirm parents. Enter Mike, a successful novelist and playwright whose actress wife left him and their infant son to make it big in Hollywood. Mike's sister Melissa helps him care for little Luke, even though she has inoperable cancer. Radiantly lovely nonetheless, she falls in love with Moorgate and its rugged caretaker, Rob, not telling him that she is near death so she can enjoy her last few weeks of life to the utmost. Mike and Posy soon pair off, as he notes her "durability," which he finds "enormously attractive." Then Maud's dearest friend Daphne reveals a devastating secret regarding Hector, causing the old ladies to sip their tea just a little faster and ponder themeaning of it all. Stodgy, colorless family drama, despite all the soapy complications and armchair psychology.
From the Publisher
"Fans of Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy will definitely applaud the introduction of such an enjoyable writer."
"A charming story. . . highly recommended for public libraries everywhere."
"A Week in Winter has all the elements of a perfect summer book. . . it's thoroughly engrossing, with richly drawn characters, a mysterious locale, and a beautifully crafted plot. . . the perfect addition to your summer beach tote."
The Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
"Captivating. . . . Set in a wild Cornish landscape that will evoke for readers Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers, Willett is a true discovery."
Michelle Slung, Victoria Magazine
"Like Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy, Willett creates such fully dimensional characters that readers feel as if they should phone or e-mail them to keep in touch."
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
"It is a wonderful moving story of family and values set in the English countryside. It is very reminiscent of the novels of Pilcher and Binchy. I am so glad Ms. Willett is following in their footsteps!" Marilyn Sieb, Books & Company
Read an Excerpt
Maudie Todhunter poured herself some coffee, sliced the top neatly from her egg, and settled herself to look at her letters. A rather promising selection lay aside her plate this morning: a satisfyingly bulky package from the Scotch House, a blue square envelope beaing her stepgranddaughter's spiky writing, and a more businesslike missive stamped with an estate agent's logo--which she placed at the bottom of the pile. She slit open Posy's card with the butter knife and propped it against the marmalade before plunging her spoon into the rich golden yok of her boiled egg...
--from A Week in Winter