It is regrettably seldom that I don't want a book to end, and that was certainly the case with my most recent read, Away With the Fairies by Vivienne Tuffnell. I was a little skeptical at first, not because of any concern over the skill of the author -- that was obvious from the first paragraph -- but because the main character, a new mother married to an Anglican minister, seemed so different from the kind of character I typically relate to that I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to connect to the story.
I needn't have worried. Isobel Trelawny, the ex-rebel-child artist, now a settled mother of two, is a dynamic, funny, endearing character, and her story is engaging. At the beginning, she is trying to cope with the difficult, but ordinary -- balancing a family and a career, dealing with the stresses of her husband's job pushing her into conforming to a set of norms she's not comfortable with, trying to find time to keep her marriage vital. She also is struggling with bigger issues -- reconciling herself to the recent deaths of both of her parents. But all of that is swamped -- or, in many ways, coalesced -- by events that she is about to experience that are very far from the realm of the ordinary.
Her minister husband, Mickey, suggests one day that what she needs is a retreat -- a place she can go to work on her art, away from the children and the distractions. It will, he says, also be a place to go on holidays, and a retirement home one day. But the house they choose has some surprises in store, and it would be unfair of me to give away any more of the plot!
Tuffnell has a deft hand with characterization -- even the minor characters are clearly drawn, their voices sure. Isobel's friend Chloe, and her obnoxious neo-pagan neighbor Maggie Broadbent, are especially well done. (I swear, I've seen Maggie at a Renaissance faire somewhere...) Isobel's interactions with her husband and children are tender and funny, and within a very few pages we are soundly on her side, and we continue to root for her every inch of the way.
Away With the Fairies makes for a sweet read... I didn't hesitate to give it a five-star review on Amazon, and I hope you'll give it a try, too!