Another book that I really enjoyed because of the characters - the main character, Penelope, in particular. The story is another of those sprawling family stories (in both time and space and characters), which in general, I enjoy very much, as long as they are skillfully told and executed.
The ending however, reminded me uncomfortably of the
ending of the Bridges of Madison County, which I hated beyond all
measure. (The best thing I can say about that book is that it was such a
fast read that I had finished it by the time I realized how truly
abysmal it was - and the framing narrative around the story was the
worst part.) So, whether or not I would have enjoyed those aspects of
the ending without having had that prior experience I can't say. I can
just say that, thanks to that dreadful book, endings that revolve around
"Look how much we didn't know about Mummy, how deeply she loved, etc,
etc..." are likely to rub me the wrong way.
But the rest of the
book I enjoyed so much. I thought the two non-likeable children were
kind of caricatures, but the likeable characters were all so endearing,
and the communities of shared food and experience and genuine enjoyment
of people's company are themes that I always very much enjoy.
Pilcher was at her best writing about her slightly bohemian and loveable characters, and fortunately, that was most of the book.