A Place Like Home: Stories

By Rosamunde Pilcher

** spoiler alert **
Listening to the lovely voices of the 4 narrators of this collection of 15 stories by Rosamunde Pilcher increased my enjoyment many times over, I’m sure. Many of the stories echo her themes that are oft-repeated in her books: That is, young shy innocent finds love with sophisticated man, salt-of-earth guy, or old or ex-love seen in a new light. Some, though, are a little different, and thus, more entertaining. And a few are quite melancholy. Most are happy and hopeful.

#1. A Person to Trust This is a typical yet enjoyable story of a young woman’s escape from the thrall of an unsuitable boyfriend into the arms of an older nicer guy. I like that the heroine takes the initiative to break up with the ex at the beginning of the story. It is followed by finding love with a better man and finally shedding herself of any residual feelings and regret for her playboy ex when she meets him at a party later and realizes that she pities him. A charming elderly couple graces this story.

#2 The Anniversary. This is a little different for RP in that it ends on an ambiguous note regarding an ethical dilemma. Should a secret be kept from her new fiance when telling it may derail the engagement? It’s complicated.

#3 Skelmerton. A Vicar’s daughter gets a crush on a man who is attracted as well but in love with someone else. He returns to the village after the death of his wife with his 10-year-old son whom she rescues from the misty moor. The village busybody invites her to a party in order to set her up with the widowed dad.

#4 A Place to Call Home. A young orphan girl is sent to her kindly boss’s Scottish home to recover from an appendectomy. As the matchmaking boss planned, she meets his reserved farmer brother and knows she has found a home and a future.

#5 Ghosts of the Past. This one was quite sad and poignant although the sadness is mitigated by the happy ending for the main character’s daughter. The young daughter is leaving her unhappy marriage to run away with a good man who makes her happy. The mother had a similar choice when she was her daughter’s age and chose to remain with her grouchy stick in the mud husband. The reader wonders about the “what ifs”.

#6 Jonathon. 2 sisters in a charming happy family meet the man her star sister jilted 5 or so years earlier. Is his heart still broken? Since he makes a move on our young narrator who had a crush on him and who serendipitously resembles the absent sister, probably not. Hmmm.

#7 The Key. A mysterious girl comes from Australia to visit the house her grandmother talked about with much love and affection. The house has burned down. She is met there by a man who turns out to have inherited the property and is her second cousin. The narrator made this one. I Loved the Australian accent. I wanted more of this one. It ended too abruptly.

#8 A Fork in the Road. A man in love with a glamorous city girl is offered a promotion in Edinburgh. She will not move from London. Will he take the promotion or stay in London so as not to lose his girlfriend? He visits some old friends in the Scottish city and sees his future there, with the help of a girl who is now all grown up.

#9 The Stone Boy. Nothing much to this. A woman who dumped her boyfriend 2 years ago meets him again coincidentally while on vacation. He still keeps her picture next to his bed and she has a re-think.

#10. A Touch of Magic. A family despairs of an artistic brother who won’t marry but needs to. An old aunt introduces him to a young friend whom he used to go to school with. When she gets dumped in a pond the wily aunt gives her a romantic dress to change into and it puts her in another light. The artist vagabond is bowled over. The aunt rewards her young nephew who tipped the boat over by giving him the 12 dollars he needs to buy a new bike. Wait a minute. Was the dunking planned or an accident? Cute.

#11. A Smile for the Bride. A happy bride goes for a bike ride on the morning of her wedding. She ponders her groom’s sadness that his beloved uncle will not attend because he disapproves of him marrying so young. She charms an elderly gentleman she meets at the top of a hill and to whom she confides her story. Guess what?

#12 Magic Might Happen. A young socially backward shy girl falls in love with a sophisticated ambitious city guy with a glamorous successful girlfriend after an evening swim. He comes back after months and months of no contact when her mother gets in an accident. This relationship would never last in the real world. I wish she had given him the boot when he favors her with his return.

#13 Through the Eyes of Love. A sophisticated young woman learns that a man she discounted and thought was boring and unappealing has hidden depths and attractiveness when her boyfriend disappoints her. Their mutual kindness to a young boy brings them together. This one should have been called “A String of Pearls.”

# 14 Our holiday. This was about the last gasp of a marriage. Most affecting and sad. I wish she had ended it on a hopeful note, but she didn’t. I guess it made it a more true-to-life story.

#15 Harbour of Love. A woman thinks she is in a loving relationship but not serious as far as marriage is concerned. When her sister is killed, she commits herself to raising her young nephew and writes a letter of farewell to her lover. She finds out she has underestimated her guy and their relationship. Interestingly, this is set in Michigan.

**3 1/2 stars for the whole shebang.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

August 14, 2021

A Long Way From Home

By Jane Fraser

Of the 4 books I have read by Rosamunde Pilcher writing as Jane Fraser, this was the best. One that I read, Dear Tom, I have not reviewed here because I read it long ago and don’t remember much about it. There are 6 other titles that I have not read simply because I have never been able to find them. This one had most of the Pilcher hallmarks. The heroine is a naive Scottish lass from the remote Hebrides who comes to London hoping to get some money from her very wealthy Grandfather whom she has never met. She is now destitute and needs the money to buy some land in order to start a bulb-growing business. Unfortunately, he is in Paris and on his way to his Villa on the Mediterranean. She finds his lawyer (the prospective love interest) who whisks her off to meet the grandfather at his villa.

There, she also encounters her glamorous Aunt and her sophisticated debutante daughter. Her aunt is adversarial but is more threatened and jealous than evil. All of the characters in the book were interesting and well-written. Although young Katy does have some irritating qualities, at least she is not a victim like many of Pilcher’s heroines are. She is a fish out of water and understandably intimidated by her new surroundings but she does have a backbone. In addition, unlike many of Pilcher’s heroines, she is hardworking, has a business plan, and wants to support herself and Jamie, her young charge. She is also pretty well educated for a girl of her age and background. As is common in her early Mills and Boon books, there is a big age difference between the hero and the heroine. Despite this, I liked the hero/lawyer pretty well even though he was a very heavy smoker(even more than is usual in her novels of the 60s). The thought that he will likely leave Katy a very young widow crossed my mind more than once. Her Grandfather was really cool, once he finally came on the scene.

The ending, which is really a kind of epilogue, is actually quite touching, seen, as it was, through the eyes of young Jamie who will be adopted by Katy and Adam. **4 stars out 5**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May 25, 2020

Bridge of Corvie

By Jane Fraser

This was much better than her earlier category-type romances, and one can see Rosamunde Pilcher’s growth and development. Lovely and lovable characters abound deftly drawn by the author. In just a few words and details, we know them and either love them or dislike them. The heroine, Sophie, is charming and quite a strong character unlike many of RP’s later female central characters. She did not have to grow or change because she is great from the very beginning.

Sophie comes on a vacation to Glencorvie, a small Scottish town, because her mother spent some very happy days there and fell in love with a young man whom her father did not approve of. Throughout Sophie’s life, her mother has talked of the little town in Scotland with affection and described it so beautifully that it has always called out to her. She wanted to meet the man her mother loved.

During her visit, Sophie sorts out a love affair that is starting to come apart, some troublesome gypsies, and a father and his two sons who are hopeless at taking care of themselves. In the process, she finds love herself. At first, you know exactly where this is going and how it is going to turn out. But by the end, it turns out you didn’t after all. There are gentle surprises aplenty.

This is right on par with many of her little novels that came later in her career.**4 stars out of 5**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

September 2, 2019

Young Bar

By Jane Fraser

Before Rosamund Pilcher went “mainstream,” she got her start writing romances for Mills and Boon (or Harlequin) under the name of Jane Fraser. In Young Bar, we do not have a typical Harlequin romance. Although certainly, this book does not have the polish and depth that her later books have, her talent shines through in her descriptions and character development. Unfortunately, the characters in this book are not developed to be very likable.

There is not much to this one plot-wise. We have Barbara Lonsdale, a fairly nice girl but spoiled and idle, though with a lively personality. She is still living with her father with no plans or goals, on a naval base In the Indian Ocean, presumably waiting for her Prince Charming to appear and marry her. Enter Commander Steven Connelly who has just been assigned to the Island. They strike sparks off of each other, and the plot consists of them gradually falling in love with each other after the initial antagonism. Her twin brother, visiting from Oxford, is like his father, selfish and with a bit of a mean streak. It is never addressed why Bar is not also in school or training for some kind of profession. Matters are complicated by the father, who has been vacationing in Ceylon, bringing home a new wife and young step-daughter who coincidentally were acquainted with Steven in England. The new wife, who isn’t a bad person, but snobby and critical of young Bar, has her eye on Steven, who is about 35, for her daughter Millie who is even younger than Bar, who is about 20. The age gap is very typical of a Rosamunde Pilcher, but this one stretches credulity even more than her later books.

It is rather like an old-timey regency romance without the regency. The marriage of the young heroine is what everything pivots on. The exotic island’s culture and social scene take center stage along with the domestic drama and developing relationships. The native islanders who are the servants are treated with the unconscious racism and disdain typical of the 1960s by both Rosamunde and her creations. In one scene, Bar and Chris, her brother, get a morning visit from a family friend. She kindly offers to get him some breakfast. This consists of her walking through the bungalow and calling out “Gordon Master’s breakfast.” “He’s waiting now.” and going back to the table and pouring herself a cup of tea. (Which she actually pours for herself!) This demonstrates the culture and the idleness of Bar’s life, which is not seen as a character defect that needs to be improved. These are middle-class civil servants in the 1960s not the nobility of 1760! It is really a slice of life in a different world, not that far in the past. It was interesting and even had a certain charm as long as I could suspend my more enlightened sensibilities.

It is mighty dull in places, but her deft characterizations and little plot threads kept me reading with interest. There were even a few times I was not sure where it was going. By the end, young Bar matures a little, learns a lesson or two, but does not essentially change much from the not too admirable girl we were introduced to in the beginning.**3 stars out of 5**

June 10, 2019

Coming Home

by Rosamunde Pilcher

This is not much a review for how marvelous this novel is but it is my favorite of Rosamunde’s “Big” books and I felt I had to say something. Her little books are gems, but this one means a lot to me. I loved the setting of the novel and the WWII time period in England. Loved the romance, but there was too long a time and too long a misunderstanding, where we are teased with them crossing paths again and resolving everything but it just doesn’t happen until the end. Such a pleasure to read about two nice people with no horrible “issues”. Loved the mini-series as well! 

Another View

by Rosamunde Pilcher

This is another one of RP’s idle uneducated girl entangled with a selfish cad who finds love with a decent gainfully employed man almost double her age. Oh, and it’s in Porthkerrris and her father is an artist. Her formula is tried and true, to say the least. I don’t mean to sound mean, her books are always charming and I love her. I almost took off a star though, because the young girl is petulant and self-pitying throughout.**3 out of 5 stars**

Rating: 5 out of 5.

June 19, 2020

The End of Summer

by Rosamunde Pilcher

This was a very slight tale of a girl, Jane, who has traveled the world with her rather feckless novelist father but has now finally returned to Elvie, her childhood home in Scotland. While staying there with her beloved grandmother she learns the painful truth about her cousin Sinclair for whom she has long held a long-cherished infatuation. Of course, the reader divines the truth right away through a couple of “clues”. Thankfully, it is not long before Jane has his number as well. She is never in danger of doing something really stupid. It is a typical Pilcher in many ways but it does take an uncharacteristically dark turn at one point. What bumped my rating up a star, was a touching and revealing letter from her father near the end. It turns out there was a little more there than at first met the eye as far as his character goes.

Pilcher’s heroines are always pretty and very nice. Nothing wrong with that. But Jane also embodies other traits that can be troubling. Besides being very young, they are also under-educated (by choice) and unambitious. They are easily victimized or taken advantage of. If they even have jobs, they are not careers, like teaching, or nursing, or management. They usually have no independent means of support so marriage to a rich or successful man is the only realistic option for a secure future. “Luckily” Jane finds her true love meal ticket at the end of this tale. I usually choose to overlook this trope while reading Rosamunde because her books are charming. But I felt I had to point it out because even her old-fashioned grandmother does.

“But nowadays every girl should be able to support herself”…hadn’t I ever wanted to do some sort of job? …I said, “Not really.” I said that I was very happy being supported by my father…. “Oh my poor Jane.”

Yay Granny! **3 1/2 stars out of 5**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May 26, 2020

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 lifelong 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**

Rating: 3 out of 5.

January 18, 2020

The Carousel

By Rosamunde Pilcher

This is one of the shorter short books. It is set in Porthkerris, the imaginary town based on St. Ives that features in many of her works. It was OK, but not a favorite by any means. This was mostly because the heroine, Prue, was non-descript and I didn’t think much of the hero. Usually, the heroine goes through some major growth and a learning curve, but this was not necessary as she was a pretty together young lady right from the beginning and did not have any challenges to overcome. The main interest was in the fate of Charlotte, the little girl who was unloved and neglected by her parents. I just didn’t believe in the “happy ending” which will rest on Daniel, Prue’s love interest and the hero, being able to settle down to a stable family life. It seems very iffy. He reminded me of the antagonist in Wild Mountain Thyme. I would have loved a book about Charlotte through the years and finding her own happy ending. She was twice as interesting as any of the other characters!
Another observation, apropos of nothing really is that this is the second book that Rosamunde characterizes another woman as a “nymphomaniac” just because she likes sex and has affairs or makes a pass at the hero. I’m willing to be tolerant of this “slut-shaming” as it is known today, because of the times it was written in and Rosamunde’s refreshingly wholesome view of life in general as revealed in her earlier books. **3 stars out of 5**

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 11, 2019

The Day of the Storm

By Rosamunde Pilcher

I did enjoy this one, one of her more slight of the “little” novels. The heroine, being an RP heroine, is hapless and naive and led down the primrose path by the antagonist in the piece for a little too long despite numerous red flags. But she didn’t make me scream with frustration at least. She was at her weakest and strongest all in one night. So we didn’t have to suffer endlessly. As always there are a few cringeworthy moments that do not have the benefit of our more enlightened attitudes of today.

I had a lump in my throat a few times, especially at the beginning before she goes to Porthkerris. Several of her books I know are set in this fictional artist colony based on St. Ives in Cornwall. So evocative and lovely. This one almost seems a bit of a precursor to her masterwork, The Shell Seekers. Besides the setting, it shared a number of elements. The good guy love/interest was one of her most appealing and romantic. The resolution was lovely and perfect without an ugly confrontation and drama-fest that many authors would not have resisted writing in. (Not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed that as well.) All in all, it had the elements that draw me to this beloved (by me at least) author. Listening to the story being narrated compounded my enjoyment. **3 1/2 stars**Rounded up because Rosamunde Pilcher.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

July 30, 2019