The Empty House

by Rosamunde Pilcher

This is one of Rosamunde’s lesser little novels both in length and content. Virginia, our “heroine”, is a bit of a limp rag. She was bullied and controlled by first her mother, then her late husband, then her mother-in-law and her children’s Nanny. Somehow she managed to get away for an hour or so and met a local farmer while she was on vacation, and fell head over heels in love. He was 28 and she was 17. Ahem. As far as I can tell, her life long crush is all because he kindly bought her an ice cream cone.

In present times, she is back in Porthkerris again after 10 years, now a widow and a mother of two young children. She meets Eustace(!) again and they pick up where they left off for an hour. She is cowed and intimidated by Nanny and her Mother-in-law so much that she is afraid to get her children from them in London. Eustace sees how little intestinal fortitude she has and bullies and yells at her for being such a wimp even accusing her of not loving or wanting the little rugrats. This upsets her so much that she is infused with the courage to confront the London meanies and bring the children to Porthkerris, Rosamunde’s fictional seaside artist’s colony and vacation destination that she sets all of her Cornwall books in.

Virginia’s confrontation with her two adversaries is the high point of the book. Rosamunde’s characterizations of the two rather menacing figures, her dead mother, her friend Alice, her late husband, and the two kids are priceless. The romance is kind of sweet if you don’t think about it too much. Her growth as a mother who has never been alone with or had the care of her own children is engaging. Not sure how successful she is going to be as a hard-working farmer’s wife, but the book ends on a happy, hopeful note.**3 stars out of 5**

January 18, 2020

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