A witty, beloved novel of heart and heartland, Farm Fatale skewers the culture clash of city vs. country in the snappy, observant style that made Wendy Holden famous.
Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend Mark are city folk longing for a country cottage. Rampant nouveaux riches Samantha and Guy are also searching for rustic bliss-in the biggest mansion money can buy. The village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl, and a ghost with a knife in its back. But there are unexpected thrills in the hills, and Rosie is rapidly discovering that country life isn't so simple after all.
"This lighthearted romp, surprisingly unpredictable, smart, and fun, is refreshing fare readers can turn to."
"Every character here is deliciously ridiculous, and every rustic detail a grand satirical opportunity."
"Wendy Holden writes with delicious verve and energy."
-Mail on Sunday
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About the Author
Wendy Holden was a journalist for The Sunday Times,Tatler and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full-time author. She has now published nine novels, all being top-10 bestsellers in the UK, and is married with two young children. Her novels include Farm Fatale, Bad Heir Day, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath,The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.
Wendy Holden (UK) was a journalist on the Sunday Times, Tatler, and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full time author. She has now published nine novels, all top 10 bestsellers in the UK. Her novels include Beautiful People, Farm Fatale, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath, The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.
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."
"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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Originally posted at: www.longandshortreviews.blogspot.com***** Coming together and making something happen out of nothing. Add a dash of slapstick and a bevy of characters and you have Farm Fatale. This is my first foray into Wendy Holden's work, and I have to admit that it was worth the read. Ms. Holden spins a tale that's interlocked and complex, though while when you're reading it, it seems breezy. The characters are interesting and nabbed my attention immediately, even when they weren't my favorites. There are lots of plot twists to keep the reader entertained and engaged with the story, but I can't disclose them without ruining the story. I liked the interwoven love stories in this book. Rosie and Mark are total opposites. He loves the city, while she's dying to get back to the earth on the farm. The culture clash is something that anyone can relate to. We've all known someone who's a square peg in a round hole, such as Mark. But I loved Rosie's spirit. She never gives up. Guy and Samantha seemed like caricatures of Hollywood types, and made me laugh throughout the book. I loved their idea of being in the country without the actual hardship of being "country" folks. And Samantha's tendency to stick her nose into everyone else's lives cracked me up. My only real issues with this story were the bevy of characters and the ending. I like a story with lots of things going on, but there were times when I had to reread and almost make notes to keep everyone straight in my mind. I won't say much about the ending, but it seemed a tad cumbersome, like it wasn't exactly firm. Still, the book was an enjoyable read and I will certainly tell my friends about it. If you want a story that will make your sides ache from laughing, then you need to read Farm Fatale.
Rosie and Mark want to move to the country. Rosie, a freelance illustrator, can work anywhere and is tired of the city noise, traffic, smells, people, hustle and bustle. Mark, a rising journalist, first refuses to consider relocating, but when his editor approves a weekly column on the trend of moving from the city to the country, he is on board. Samantha also wants to move to the country. A frustrated actress who married super-rich Guy, she wants to get in on the trend, and she wants to move Guy further away from his first wife and daughter. Guy is not enthusiastic, but when he has a heart attack, Samantha sells their city place and buys a country one while he is out of commission. Both couples end up in the small village of Eight Mile Bottom, although in vastly different circumstances. Rosie and Mark are in "a restricted financial condition" as their realtor puts it, and move into a small cottage in need of renovations. Samantha picks out the local manor house, a seventeenth century house she then proceeds to renovate until it loses its authenticity. Rosie is entranced with the local folk, livestock, local produce and small town relationships and ways. Samantha, who expects the local landed gentry to beat a path to her door, is less entranced. She regards the locals as buffoons and the animals as nuisances. Can these two couples adjust to life in the country? Wendy Holden, author of Beautiful People and Bad Heir Day, will entertain the reader as they find out which couple, if either, makes a successful adjustment to this new way of life. Holden is in fine form. Her prose is witty and has an off-beat, self-deprecating humour that many authors try to accomplish but few can pull off. Her depiction of Lady Avon coming to visit Samantha (she turns out to be the Avon Lady!) is priceless and had me laughing out loud. This book is recommended for readers looking for a fun entertainment.
This book was laugh out loud funny. I did think the ending was a bit unrealistic and contrived, but I so thouroughly enjoyed the rest of the book, I still give it 4 stars
I read this book in 3 days, couldn't put it down. Hillarious! A good book for a beach, a laudrette, cheers up a gloomy day and gives the reader laughs out loud.
I did finish the book because some of the story is funny but if British English common terms are unfamiliar don't bother
This was our book club choice and on the outside appeared to be a good, funny read. The book just skims the surface of characters and plot. It read more like a bad movie of the week, except without all of the drama, suspense, and intrigue. Everything gets tied up in a neat bow at the end, even the girl that gets a marriage proposal on their third meeting! A primetime TV episode is written better than this ridiculousness.
Great flame stripe lets go to my den i need to talk to you