Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors

Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors

4.4 5
by Wendy Holden

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Rosie and Mark, a couple living in chic urban squalor, pine for the rustic bliss of country life. Newly minted, Samantha and Guy want the same thing-on a somewhat grander scale. The four converge on the quaint village of Eight Mile Bottom. With its eccentric residents, including a reclusive rock star, a nosy postman, a foxy farmer, and one ghost with a knife in its… See more details below


Rosie and Mark, a couple living in chic urban squalor, pine for the rustic bliss of country life. Newly minted, Samantha and Guy want the same thing-on a somewhat grander scale. The four converge on the quaint village of Eight Mile Bottom. With its eccentric residents, including a reclusive rock star, a nosy postman, a foxy farmer, and one ghost with a knife in its back, the two couples are soon swept up in various romantic entanglements, mix-ups, slipups, and unlikely seductions in their search for ever-greener pastures.

Farm Fatale is another witty, irresistible gem from a hip and savvy author.

Author Biography: The former deputy editor of Tatler, Wendy Holden has worked at the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday. She is the author of the international bestsellers Simply Divine and Bad Heir Day.

Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun
Every character here is deliciously ridiculous, and every rustic detail a grand satirical opportunity.
Publishers Weekly
As the old caveat goes: be careful what you wish for it might come true. Holden (Bad Heir Day) addresses what can possibly go wrong (and does) when one woman finally gets exactly what she wants in this energetic, witty tale. Rosie, an idealistic freelance illustrator, can hardly wait to leave her dingy London flat for a charming little cottage in the country. Mark, her live-in boyfriend, is less than enthusiastic about exchanging London's hustle and bustle for the bucolic life particularly when his "big break" at his thankless newspaper job seems just around the corner. But Mark's editor assigns him a new column based on the adventures of a "city mouse" in the country, and it looks like Rosie's dream has finally come true. Unfortunately, it's a nightmare. Their tiny cottage is just as "rural" and "historic" as it appears (complete with the attendant plumbing problems); loud hippie neighbors disturb their slumbers; and Rosie and Mark squabble over everything from gardening to the charms of the locals. However, the lovely old couple next door has a farmer nephew they're eager for Rosie to meet, and to her surprise, he turns out to be both young and cute. Toss in a reclusive pop star, a pushy second-rate actress and a gossipy postman, and decibel levels in the sleepy village of Eight Mile Bottom are soon rising to a decidedly unsleepy pitch. With enjoyable if limited characters and a wonderfully awful-to-watch side plot involving the truly horrible "Sasha Villiers" (her "stage" name), this lighthearted romp, surprisingly unpredictable, smart and fun, is refreshing fare readers can turn to when they're tired of lifeless Bridget clones. (Mar. 5) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sophisticated Londoners opt for country chic, in a third farce by Holden (Bad Heir Day, 2001, etc.). Children's book illustrator Rosie pines for a cozy home in the hills of rural England-but her live-in love, Mark, freelance author of puff pieces for a Sunday magazine, prefers the city. Filth is his friend, as he puts it, until the day he gets his own column: his editors want him to cover the latest moving-to-the-country trend! So he and Rosie buy a venerable cottage in the quaint village of Eight Mile Bottom-and wonder what they've done. Rosie is pleased with her new surroundings, but Mark is miserable. He loathes the nosy postman and the dotty couple Rosie befriends, not to mention the neo-hippies and their noisy brats next door. And he develops writer's block. Then a dreadful pair of social climbers from London buy a Jacobean manor nearby, much to Rosie's dismay. She's met financier Guy Grabster and his silicone-enhanced wife Samantha once before, and it was quite enough. Samantha, an over-the-hill actress with endless aspirations, cuts her cloth accordingly. Guy hates the country even more than Mark, but his wife knows that "crotchless lace is more persuasive than any amount of cold logic" and has talked him into paying for a fabulous f�te so she can swan it for the locals, peasants and gentry alike. Mark attends, hoping to wangle a screenwriting assignment for Samantha's harebrained scheme of starring in a film bio of Charlotte Bronte. Rosie goes along and makes friends-very, very good friends-with a nice bloke who turns out to be a reclusive pop star recovering from the impact of worldwide fame and unimaginable wealth. Should shy Rosie choose him? Or is rough-hewn farmer Jackbetter? Or should she just stick with whiny, disagreeable Mark? Wickedly funny comedy of manners: oddballs, hilarious one-liners, and some very bad puns.
From the Publisher
"Well written, thoroughly entertaining and not to be missed. " - RT Book Reviews

"Quite witty and clever... humorous and catchy. " - Fresh Fiction

"Holden is in fine form. Her prose is witty and has an off-beat, self-deprecating humour. " - Booksie's Blog

"If you want a story that will make your sides ache from laughing, then you need to read Farm Fatale." - The Long and Short of It

"Wendy Holden has done it again... a great example of fun, summer time beach reading!" - Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

"Full of humour and wit. " -

"A light-hearted read chock full of witty dialogue and fun!" - A Bookworm's World

"A funny, witty and just plain fun book to read.." - Celtic Lady's Reviews

"Holden writes a brilliant novel filled with a delightful and eclectic cast of characters. " - Rundpinne

"Holden's sense of humor, keen observational skills and sharp, satiric wit really appeal to me. " - Pudgy Penguin Persuals

"The characters are quirky, funny, and the plot highly entertaining." - Wendy's Minding Spot

"Author Wendy Holden has created a funny and unpredictable story with wonderful characters you'll enjoy. " - Thoughts In Progress

"A classic Holden comedy... " - Apprentice-Writer

"A fun, romantic comedy - British style. " - Starting Fresh

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Product Details

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Read an Excerpt

Bang on 8 am, the car alarm that had been shrieking all night finally stopped. After a two-second pause, the road drills began. Rosie could hold back no longer.

"Mark? You know we've been talking about moving to the countryside..."

"You've been talking about it, you mean," corrected Mark, hunched over his bowl of Cheerios and flicking rapidly through the newspapers. "I don't believe it." He groaned.

"I know." Rosie pressed her hands to her ears. "They only dug up that patch a week ago. Something to do with cable TV..."

"Not that," said Mark, his spoon dripping milk as he shook it at the center spread of a tabloid. "This. The Mail's got Matt Locke. We've been trying to get him for ages."

"Who's Matt Locke?"

Mark looked at her, exasperated. "Honestly, you're like that judge who asked 'Who is Gazza?' Don't you ever read the papers?"

"You know I don't. Apart from the horoscopes." No doubt, Rosie thought, she was missing something, but she failed to share the awe with which Mark regarded newspapers in general and his job on one in particular. After all, it wasn't as if he was setting the national agenda, exposing Nazis, or bringing corrupt politicians to book. As far as Rosie could make out, Mark's job as assistant editor on a Sunday lifestyle section mostly involved rewriting other people's articles-"tickling up" as he called it-and attempting to persuade celebrities to give interviews about everything from their cystitis (for "Disease of the Week") to the contents of their refrigerator (for the "Chillin'" slot).

"Matt Locke, m'lud," Mark explained with elaborate patience, "is an extremely successful singer. The chisel-cheeked champion of howling rock 'n' roll angst, he burst on the scene two years ago with the number one platinum album Posh Totty, an epoch-making elegy to soaring strings, gutsy guitar, melancholy blues, and a touch of country and western, following it up with the even more successful What Did Your Last One Die Of ? Then, at the height of his fame, he crashed and burned amid claims that the stress was too much."

"Oh," said Rosie, peering at the newspaper photograph of a girlish-looking youth with elaborately tousled hair and huge lips. He did not look particularly stressed. Actually, he looked half asleep. She winced as the road drills outside changed to an even more brain-penetrating key. "Darling, you know you said you'd think about it. The countryside, I mean."

"Recycled interviews, of course," Mark muttered, pressing his nose almost against the newspaper. "Nothing that's not been printed before. Apart from these aerial pictures of Matt in his garden, although they're so blurry, it's probably one of the gnomes."

"Two-thirds of people living in cities want to live in the country," Rosie persevered, hoping she'd remembered the figures properly. "Thousands are migrating every month."

"So if we stay in London," Mark said flippantly, "everyone else will eventually leave, house prices will go down, and we'll end up with a mansion on Regent's Park Road."

"Oh, Mark."

"Look," Mark said, putting the newspaper down at last. "I know I said last night that I'd think about it, but it was the wine speaking. I don't want to leave London. I'm a townie born and bred. Crowds and noise are my lifeblood; filth is my friend. I can't breathe anything but carbon monoxide. A landscape of brutalist shopping precincts, down-at-the-heel Tube stations, and municipal concrete bunkers is the only sort of scenery I have time for. Besides," he added, stretching with satisfaction, "I'm going to be promoted. At long last, the paper's going to give me a column of my own."

"It is? But you never mentioned that last night."

"Well, it's not quite sorted out yet."

"So it's still 'Driving Miss Daisy' for the moment?"

The main column in Mark's section, "Driving Miss Daisy," recorded the adventures of Househusband, a stay-at-home father who looked after his infant daughter, Daisy, while his wife, a successful futures trader, went to work. Desperate for a column of his own, Mark despised the weekly chore of extracting the material out of Househusband and writing up the results himself. The fact that Househusband was incapable of stringing a sentence together, much less coming up with ideas, was, as Mark often savagely pointed out, not unconnected to the fact that he was the brother-in-law of the paper's editor.

Mark's brows drew together crossly. "For the moment, yes. But they've obviously given me that to train me for better things." He raked a hand through his rumpled golden hair. "Rosie, I can't leave.
I'm on the brink of a promising career."

"Look," she said persuasively. "Why don't you ask the paper for a writing contract? Or go freelance, if they won't do it. You'd enjoy it much more. We could live anywhere we liked then. You can't really want to stay here." The hand she waved at their rented flat's dustbloomed windows jerked involuntarily as a backfiring car joined the shrilling symphony of drills. "Imagine: Clean air. Cottages with roses round the door. Sun-dappled country lanes, empty of traffic." Mark merely shrugged at this. Her dreams, Rosie realized miserably, were not his. In which case, she'd target his nightmares, namely the dentist and going bald. "Water that doesn't cause tartar buildup behind your teeth. Rain that's clean and doesn't poison your hair follicles." As he still looked unimpressed, she added desperately, "Struggling into the office on the crappy, broken-down old Tube with your face pushed into someone's bottom. Or armpit."

"You don't have to struggle on the Tube anyway," Mark cut in self-righteously. "You're a freelance illustrator. You can lie around all day if you want."

Rosie rolled her eyes but refrained from pointing out that the endless illustrations for the food and horoscope pages of various glossy magazines in which she seemed to have become a specialist left little time for bon-bons on the couch. The fact that paintings of scallops and Scorpio were relatively poorly paid was, Rosie thought, another argument in favor of the move. Her fees would go further in the country.

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