Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz

The Vicar's Wife
by Katharine Swartz
Jane Hatton and her British husband Andrew relocate from New York City to a small village on the Cumbrian coast. Jane has been city-based and career-driven but when her fourteen year old daughter Natalie falls in with the wrong crowd at school in Manhattan, she and Andrew decide to try country living. However Jane has trouble getting used to the silence and solitude of a remote village. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? The Hattons have bought the old vicarage in the village. When Jane finds a scrap of shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before. As we follow the twin narratives of Jane, in the present, and Alice in the 1930s we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.
Publication Date: October 18, 2013
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Kat's Review
This book drew me in from the start. The twin narratives from Alice in the 1930s and Jane in the present actually made me more intrigued with the book, rather than less as I had originally expected. Both women are so interesting and strong in their own ways that it was fascinating to what their lives unfold over the course of the book.

Alice moved to the vicarage directly from her father's home, and was a naïve, wide-eyed girl expecting a life of children, friends, and happiness. When the reality of being a vicar's wife hits, she struggles to maintain the public persona she feels is expected of her. When continued attempts to have a baby fail, Alice falls into an even deeper depression, feeling as though she has failed at being the wife and woman she always wanted to be, despite the continued love and support of her husband. It's only when he leaves for war that Alice truly blossoms and comes into her own, left with the task of managing the vicarage without the help of her husband, and being a pillar for those in the community to lean on.
Jane is almost the opposite to Alice in every way at the beginning of the book. A business woman from New York, she feels ripped from everything she knows and loves to follow her husband's dream of returning to his home country with their children. As Jane tries to tamp down her resentment and being thrust into her new life as a housewife, she watches her family embrace all that their new life has to offer. Jane doubts her ability to come to terms with her new existence, and it puts a strain on her marriage and her relationships with her children.
This book tackles questions of love, sacrifice, duty, and friendship. Both Alice and Jane find their worlds turned upside down, and must find ways to cope. Though they live in different times and have much different personalities, they deal with some of the same issues, seen through each woman's own very different lenses.
Kat's Rating: A Good Read
I found myself relating to both of these women, even though my life is very different from the lives of both Alice and Jane. A great book for those who enjoy both contemporary women's fiction and historical fiction. There's a little something in there for both.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.

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