Reviewed by Jenni Cahill
Wilfred and Grace are sharing a picnic in Grace’s garden and, though they barely know one another, Wilfred gets carried away and proposes to her. He regrets his actions straight away, as although he thinks Grace is a nice girl, he doesn’t love her and doesn’t want to marry her. However, when he tries to tell Grace, he discovers she has already told her family about their engagement and they are delighted to welcome him into the family.
Wilfred feels trapped by his mistake. He doesn’t want to hurt Grace, but feels he must break off their brief engagement and she is devastated when he finally plucks up the courage to do so. She knows Wilfred doesn’t love her, but is determined to marry him anyway.
While at a funeral, Wilfred meets Flora, the daughter of the deceased. Flora is not only grieving for her father, but also for the fiancé she lost six years ago. Wilfred is mesmerised by Flora and engineers another meeting with her. When Wilfred asks her to tea, Flora wonders if he can make her happy again.
Set in a small Welsh village, the book is a sweet, sometimes heart breaking tale of three young people striving for a normal, happy life.
To begin with, I thought Grace was quite selfish, trying to trap Wilfred in a loveless marriage he doesn’t want, but she has her reasons for doing so and I did feel sorry for her. Grace isn’t a bad person, however, she is lost and desperate and Wilfred is her only hope. She can’t tell her family the truth at that moment in time, but I do wish she had at least tried.
Although Wilfred is an ambitious young man, I felt he was quite weak when he failed to stand up for himself and ended up going along with things he didn’t believe in. I felt he was silly and naïve rather than intentionally cruel when he proposed and then quickly broke off the engagement, but he did redeem himself with his kindness later on.
I would have liked to have known Flora a little more as I felt we only saw snippets of her and while her story was sad, I found it difficult to engage with her fully.
It was a gentle and simple story, but for me, it was too simple. I enjoyed reading it, however I wasn’t grabbed by the story or the characters and felt like I was reading from afar rather than being immersed in the pages.
This book was published by Constable & Robinson this month.