Fifteen-year-old Issy and her newly single mother, Caroline Evans, are struggling to find their way alone, as well as together. At thirty-eight, with little money and all the responsibility for the two of them, Caroline is coming to terms with her new situation. When she decides to leave Singapore, home of her former well-off life (and her cheating husband), she ends up living in an English village pub, cooking dinners there to earn enough to get by, meeting unexpectedly quirky people, and making friends. But Issy still adores her father and secretly blames her mother for their change in life.
Just as Caroline's dream of converting an old barn into a restaurant finally begins to take shape, her chance at happiness is threatened and hangs in the balance as whispers of murder and vengeance find their way to her. When Issy, who is hovering in that limbo between girl and young woman, begins to make some risky choices, the stakes are raised even higher.
A Place in the Country is filled with emotions every woman will recognize as Caroline and Issy make their way in the world and do battle with those who would wish to see them lose their chances to gain their hearts' desires. Love and hate, blame and responsibility, deception and trust all collide in this novel that is Elizabeth Adler at her page-turning best.
From The New York Times bestselling author comes an emotionally powerful novel about mothers and daughters, the secrets they share, and those they keep to themselves.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.72(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.98(d)|
About the Author
ELIZABETH ADLER is the internationally acclaimed author of novels including The House in Amalfi, Sailing to Capri, and Please Don't Tell. She lives in Palm Springs, California.
Read an Excerpt
Caroline Evans was having a day out from her rented London flat, driving through rainy Oxfordshire with her fifteen-year-old daughter slumped in a silent sulk next to her.
They had taken in Oxford, “city of dreaming spires,” which seemed to have more traffic than a motorway in rush hour, plus a couple of thousand young people smoking and drinking coffee and hanging about outside pubs. Issy ignored it all but Caroline had fallen for the rain-slicked courtyards and the ancient colleges half-hidden behind tall gates that had been there long before Henry’s time. That would be Henry VIII, who, Caroline now figured couldn’t have been all bad, despite the six wives. After all, her own husband had had two, and that was before her.
“A serial husband,” she had said doubtfully when James told her he was going to marry her, though she was longing to say yes because she was so besotted by him she couldn’t see straight, even with her glasses on.
Forget charming the birds; James Evans could, and did, charm everyone. Caroline remembered thinking it was okay about the other two wives, she would be the last wife. That’s what James told her. And she’d believed him. She was twenty-two.
Now she was thirty-eight and an ex-wife, with a teenage daughter whose name was Isabel, always known as Issy, who some days talked to her and some days did not; who looked mostly like her father; and who, Caroline suspected, was smoking. However she did not yet have a tattoo, or at least not one in any place visible to her mother.
“Oxford’s a lot different from when I was a girl,” she said, maneuvering the old Land Rover bumpily out of the city and onto the A40, toward Cheltenham, though she had no specific destination in mind.
“Of course it is. That was a long time ago.” Her daughter turned to look at her. “You should wear lipstick,” she said. “And mascara.”
Caroline sighed, remembering not so long ago when her child had thought she was perfect. She fiddled in her handbag for the lipstick and Issy told her she shouldn’t do that while driving. It seemed she could do nothing right.
“Bloody rain,” Issy said, looking at the wipers sloshing water sideways across the windscreen.
Caroline glanced sharply at her, then caught the sign for Burford and swung right into one of the prettiest high streets in the Cotswolds. Picture perfect, lined with small shops selling the usual souvenirs and postcards, but also art galleries and antique stores, bakeries and tea shops, as well as trees dripping onto the umbrellas of the few hardy citizens who waded through the puddles, heading for shelter.
Caroline slammed on the brakes as a car pulled out in front of her. “Look, we’ve got a parking spot. We were meant to stop here. Let’s have tea.”
Issy’s sigh matched the stoop of her shoulders as she clambered unwillingly out of the car and stood in the rain, looking, her mother thought with a twinge of pity, utterly helpless and defeated in her new Marks & Spencer parka. Rain slicked her brown hair and there was a look of sadness in her brown eyes. It had been there ever since they’d left Singapore a year and a half ago, and Caroline did not know what to do about it.
Now, though, she grabbed her hand firmly and hurried her across the road into the nearest tearoom. As they climbed the stairs and took the last available table, she wasn’t thinking about the strawberry cream tea she would order for them both, she was thinking of James, wondering, as she had so often, if she had done the right thing, leaving him.
“Mom.” They had just sat down and Issy got up again. “I’m going downstairs to look at the shop.”
The tearoom was over a junky jewelry-souvenir shop. “Okay.” Caroline watched her go.
The tea came, carried on a plastic tray decorated with birds of the region, by a young woman not much more than her daughter’s age, but who at least smiled at her and said it was the Earl Grey you wanted, Madam.
Caroline said it was and the girl put the tray down, arranged the small flowery cups in front of her and indicated the two-tier china cake stand with its nicely browned scones and a choice of small cakes; éclairs, fruit tarts, and iced buns. There was a dish of strawberry jam and a deep bowl with cream so thick you could stand your spoon in it.
“Perfect, thank you.” Caroline found herself smiling as she poured pale tea into the flowery little cup. She had been brought up in London, an English girl who’d married and gone to live in Singapore with a husband she loved, a daughter she adored, a beautiful penthouse home with a view of the river and the city and its twinkling nighttime lights.
“Best of both worlds,” James said, when they first looked at it. They were young marrieds; he American in his early thirties, successful in hedge funds and investments, and so attractive and charming he didn’t need a penthouse to feel on top of the world. And she was so hazy with love and sex she couldn’t think of anything else.
That was then. Now, was this rainy English day, a steamy little tea shop, and an almost silent daughter who finally came back, taking the wooden stairs two at a time. She sat down, took a scone, sliced it neatly, slathered it with jam and a dollop of thick cream, took a too-large bite, then picked up her phone and began texting.
Who she was texting Caroline didn’t know. Still, she took a scone, and smiled. “This is the best,” she said hopefully.
“Yeah.” Issy’s thumbs were busy but Caroline noticed she was also watching her as she struggled to arrange cream on top of the crumbling scone without it collapsing entirely in her hand.
“You should cut it into two pieces,” Issy informed her.
“You sound just like my mother,” Caroline said, making Issy smile. It was the first smile Caroline had seen all day.
“Here, this is for you.” Issy pushed over a small package, wrapped in pink tissue paper.
“Really? For me?”
“I said so, didn’t I?”
She looked away and Caroline knew she was embarrassed and thought she was being loud, and that everyone was looking.
“A present,” she said, unraveling the pink tissue. “Ohh, Issy, how lovely.”
It was a tiny brooch, junky, cheap but somehow sweet. She ran a finger over the fake silver. Fake or not, she would always treasure it. “A little bird, on the wing,” she said.
“Sort of like us. Birds on the wing, never alighting anywhere.”
“You mean us not having a real home anymore?” Caroline felt that clench in her heart again. “We’ll get one, soon. I promise you.”
Her voice sounded more confident than she felt. Money was tight, to say the least. When she’d married James, she had been young, she hadn’t known any better and had signed that prenup, which of course meant that all she’d gotten from the divorce and sixteen years of marriage was a very small lump sum, and child support until her daughter became eighteen.
She glanced round the small tearoom at the other people; ordinary people, mackintoshes and parkas steaming over the backs of their chairs in the heat wafting from a long white radiator under the already steamed-up windows. People, Caroline thought, whose lives were all set; who had a pattern, a routine, and probably not a care in the world as they ate their scones and jam and cream and talked about the rain, as the English always did because it always rained anyway.
“Come on, have that last chocolate éclair, why don’t you,” she said briskly, pulling herself together. “Then we’ll get out into the countryside, see a bit more of the Cotswolds.”
Issy gave her that world-weary fifteen-year-old shrug. “Whatever,” she said, which Caroline guessed meant she agreed.
Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Adler
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Caroline Evans life has been in stasis ever since she and her daughter left their home and lives in Singapore and went back to England. She knew she couldn’t stay any longer knowing her marriage was a lie, knowing about her husband’s betrayal. The move however has many difficulties, money that she doesn’t have anymore, child-support that never seems to arrive but the most troubling is her fifteen year old daughter, Izzy’s unhappiness at leaving behind her friends, her home but most of all the father she adored. And on a rainy weekend get-a-way to the Cotswolds Izzy’s unhappiness is about to increase when Caroline spots a for sale sign on a run down barn that calls to her and she suddenly has a place in the country she didn’t even know she wanted. With the support of newfound yet staunch friends and the help of their new community Caroline and Izzy are starting to settle in when Caroline gets some disturbing news about her ex’s business dealings then fixing up a run down property becomes all of a sudden the least of her worries and her world keeps spiraling when the bad news doesn’t stop and Caroline and Izzy are thrown into a seemingly unsolvable mystery. In the midst of all this it seems the fates are having a grand time with Caroline when they decided to throw romance into the mix as well. Elizabeth Adler has taken me to the most beautiful places on earth, San Tropez, Malibu, Amalfi, and Barcelona so I was surprised to be in rainy England, in a small village in the Cotswolds. I should have known the surprise would be on me because inside the rundown spider infested barn she brought me another unforgettable tale and like many times she added a spectacular mystery twist or two, plus it didn’t stop at the shores of the Thames but she took me to Hong Kong and Singapore as well. She brings it with her remarkable eloquent narrative that’s not only easy to read but also vivid in detail so much so that I could feel the rain on the windows and the scents of the flowers and the food, oh yes it’s always about the food with her too and it’s spectacular in it’s simplicity and comfort. It’s also about her characters who I knew each intimately by the end, some of which I wish I hadn’t and some of which I want more of. And as usual it’s about love, this time the love spreads from romance to friendship and family but it’s no less intense in the telling. All in all it’s a beautiful story about faith in oneself and in those closest to us, it’s about starting over, it’s about looking forward without forgetting to look back as well and most important is that it will resonate with fans from multiple genres and leave all of them satisfied. Ms. Adler thank you for this journey and I just have to wonder what stamp my passport will show with our next one, which I can’t wait to take.
Caroline Evans has left her cheating husband and her high class life behind in Singapore and takes her 15 year old daughter with her. Starting over is not going to be easy but it better than living a lie. Caroline and Issy end up Oxfordshire, England. They happen upon an English pub where owner Maggie takes them in and has Caroline cooking up a storm in the kitchen in no time. Caroline loves to cook. Issy makes friends with Maggie's daughter but she still blames her mother for taking her away from her father and ruining her life. Their lives take a turn as Caroline decides to follow her dream and create her own Place in the Country while Issy is stuck in that time between being a girl and becoming a young woman and is making some dangerous choices. Their past also comes up close and personal when someone is murdered and an unexpected visitor comes to visit them in the country. Elizabeth Adler has given us an engaging and emotional story of a mother and her daughter and the bonds they share. Caroline is doing what she knows is right no matter how difficult. Issy just wants things to go back to normal. They meet many new people in the country that quickly become friends. Caroline needs to free herself to love again. More than one man wants to be "the man" in her life. The mystery added to this mix was surprising and exciting. Twists and turns that maneuver they story in a different direction. A direction that shows Caroline how strong she has become since she was at her ex-husband's beck and call. The descriptions of the English countryside painted a beautiful picture even when it was raining or foggy. Sounds like A Place in the Country would be a wonderful place to visit. This is my first read of this author but it won't be my last. The story gets my highest recommendation.
As a serious reader of fiction, and a fan of the original style of Elizabeth Adler, I cannot understand how the readers who rated this book one star!! and 2 stars!! could possibly send a review (Threadbinder'; 'Anonymous' and Babette-dYvine) so obviously destructive and with a motive! One is publicizing another writer (shouldn't be allowed) and the others are either jealous of the writer, or who have another motive! A review should be instructive, and not used by the customer reviewer to promote a negative feeling towards the writer. Please readers, sample the book and come to your own conclusions. I thought it was well-ploted, with lots of ambience and atmosphere. interesting characters entertaining characters, plot and narrative
Elizabeth Adler is my favorite author, and I've read every one of her books since I first discovered her about 20 years ago. I was really looking forward to her lastest, but I was terribly disappointed. The plot was choppy and went off in several different directions. It just didn't "grab" me. I really hope Ms. Adler does better next time.
This was a very uneven story with lots of implausible plot turns, including being embraced by total strangers and starting a restaurant on next to nothing with no business plan (read Restaurant by Joe Bastianich). The story felt like it was written by several different writers cand the tactic of using different voices didn't work, since it wasn't consistent. I liked her previous novels and their settings; EA is good at good scene description and doesn't write formula mysteries so I don't know what happened with this one.
After waiting for this new book from Elizabeth Adler, I'm so disappointed. I can't believe I finished it. I kept thinking it would get better. The plot was all over the place and really didn't make sense. I've read, re-read and loved everything she has written but this was just plain BAD.