Most helpful critical review
Snowfall in Burracombe
on 25 October 2014
I've liked another of this author's works, but came to this series as a newcomer and the tale does not read well as a standalone. The town on Dartmoor is no doubt well described, and the fifties setting, but we are plunged into the on-going lives of a cast of about thirty characters who are all followed separately.
The main plotlines seemed to be two in number. One young woman was in a car which collided with ponies on a road (I would have liked to know what happened to the ponies but wasn't told) and now she lies in hospital unconscious. When she comes around she has some background memory but amnesia. The rest of the story follows her anxious fiancé as he learns that the planned wedding in one month will have to be postponed, because the lady has spinal nerve damage and how much movement she'll regain is not known. Treatments of the day are described.
Another young woman met a doctor when they served abroad during the war, and has now met him again only to find that he went and married the fiancée after all though they appear never to have loved each other, so I didn't see why. Divorces being so difficult and expensive at the time he wants to keep seeing the other girl on the quiet. However she's also married but falls recklessly in love with him again and the whole story is full of "oh we mustn't" as they dramatise their otherwise quiet lives. This does bring home how old-fashioned the fifties were with regard to personal freedom.
The whole town however is followed as they prepare for Christmas and visit the pub; lovers of country tales who are following the series may love the book but the depressing circumstances and jumble of too many characters meant I did not enjoy the read. American series writers about towns like Whiskey Creek, Fool's Gold and Virgin River tend to bring a new character to town who is followed as he/she interacts with one established character in particular; the rest of the cast are walk-on parts to show us how they are getting on but the main two are the focus. This tends to be a lot easier to follow for a newcomer, who may then read the previous as well as later books.