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2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 January 2008
Despite regularly looking up to check when new books are published by my favourite authors, this popped up unannounced!
A great read where you are taken to a quaint little English village and get to know all of the weird and wonderful characters.
The mad-as-a-hatter vicar whose main aim is to find a wife, the new school headteacher, dealing with falling numbers of children and an odd problem child. There's the eccentric but handsome owner of the manor house, which is secretly crumbling around him and his ever patient wife. There's the new American couple who are trying to fit in, and the mid-thirties solicitor whose wife died in a nasty car crash. To top it all off there is a eco-warrior aubergine dyed psycho, trampling around the town barking orders at everyone. Before long they are all involved in random plots, such as allotment allocation, buried treasure, a WAG trying to build a footballer's mansion and a newly fostered orphan.
A great read with lots of twists and despite trying to predict the ending - you never quite can manage to.
Get it now!!!!
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on 24 February 2008
Having loved all Wendy Holden's witty romantic comedy books so far, this is a huge disappointment. It will be a bestseller because other fans will, like me, just buy it thinking she is always to be relied on. Not this time, folks! The characters and plot start out almost as good as usual, but possibly because she wanted a big chunky book, she writes in almost too many people, puts in not enough time on some and too much spent on others, and the end is so sudden and summed up in one quick chapter, that it is almost as though she ran out of ideas - or even had someone else finish it. Very poorly written ending, even though she tells us what happens to most of the people in the village, I really wasn't that bothered by then! She definitely 'lost the plot' with this one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 February 2008
I've read nearly all of Wendy Holdens books and this one was as good as the last. The charachters she creates are hilarious (especially the eco-goddess Morag). It's set in Allsop and descibes the lives of Morag, Catherine (the local Headteacher, Phillip (the local solicitor) who tragically lost his wife, Alexandra the footballers gorlfriend and Mary and Monty who live in a crumbling Manor House. It's an eclectic mix that works well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 28 March 2008
i bought this book as there was a lot of hype about it and i thought £7 in asda was reasonable for this size book .have had it for a month now and am only half way throuugh . it definately sends me to sleep at night put it that way.yawning just thinking about it .
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on 12 September 2008
I read anything and everything from chick lit through to diatribes on the state of the 21st century. I think the other reviewers are being slightly unfair on this book. It's a light, fluffy romp through a small village and their bonding (or not) on their newly acquired allotment. It doesn't need to have a tight plot line and the whole point of the book, and the genre it seems to me, is that you don't have to concentrate too hard on who's who or what's likely to happen later. Once you've read a few you know that A is likely to end up with B and C will run away and everyone will get their just desserts at some point. Of course there are better books but there are certainly worse ones to curl up with on the sofa on a wet evening.
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2008
After the absolutely awful 'school for husbands' (have loved all her other novels), it was with trepidation that I picked up WH's latest offering. And with a huge sigh of relief I settled into what promised to be a rollocking good ride of a tale; I liked the characters who were diverse and amusing and the style of WH's good humoured, witty prose was seemingly back on form.
And then it started to go wrong.... The fact that I was speed-reading and/or daydreaming by the time I hit 150 pages was a strong indicator that the story was a little thin on capturing the imagination and holding it! Firstly, the plot was always on the horizon but never quite materialised and secondly, it was just too long. It limped on and on until by the time I was on the home-straight, I was quickly scanning the pages just so i could finish and read something else!
What an utter letdown after a very promising start - read her earlier work but don't bother with the last couple. Please get the next one right WH!!!
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2008
I've never read anything by Wendy Holden before so I can't say where this ranks in her oeuvre, but I'm surprised by the vitriolic reviews. I thought this was great fun, full of witty lines and engaging characters. I read this while enduring a long-running plumbing disaster and it certainly kept my mind off it. I look forward to reading more by her.
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on 4 September 2008
Now don't get me wrong, i'm a fan of chick lit, easy to read page turner books. Romantic encounters, quirky characters, all of it is what i like to read to unwind before bed. This book, however, was an agonising disappointment.

Firstly, it takes the author 3/4 of the book to establish the situation before anything actually happens. You spend god knows how many chapters learning pointless little facts about gardening (i warn you, the majority of this book is about nothing but gardening), i've never known a book to take so long to get to the point. Secondly, the characters themselves were only just about bearable if not a little pantomimey in their personalities, and i realised i didn't actually *like* any of them.

As i read on (for i thought, 'it has to pick up at some point') things didn't get better. The climax of this ridiculous book was the closing scene, when one of the lead male characters could hear his dead wife 'clapping' (from beyond the grave, naturally) as he was on a date with another woman. I couldn't help but laugh.

Incidentally i was in an airport waiting lounge when i finished this book. That is where i left it.
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2010

It's a decent holiday reading book: the story is engaging and fairly amusing. It is not one of her best, but inventive enough with some very touching scenes and moments. It makes you smile.

Mary is a sympathetic character, possibly easy to identify with. Monty is a nice English eccentric, but doesn't light that many fires in the romantic imagination.
Catherine is feisty, understandable and has much more energy about her as a character. She makes a great combination with Philip, the solicitor, who is also well-drawn. I would have preferred it if these two were the main focus of the book.
Morag is too much the villain to be really funny which you feel she ought to be.
Alexandra is a well drawn WAG, some laughs here.

The setting is a bit too drab, though Wendy Holden has done a great job with the village characters. The scenes which work the best are those set on the allotments.

Not her best effort.

CRITIQUE(I felt a need to write this as well)

This book has a great many faults in common with a lot of popular fiction at the moment.

The exposition is far too long; the story doesn't get going until the book is halfway through. Holden tries to set up psychological parameters and detail her setting, but so much of it feels like padding. The whole thing feels as if it had to reach a large word count, and she is not good at the sort of detail that made the Victorian popular novel work. And Jackie Collins.

Often what feels like it ought to help the reader identify with the thought processes and feelings of a character seems rather vacuous. Tamara and the archaeologists is a prime example of this kind of waste of time. The story needs to move on faster.

Having said that, once it does move on it's great up until the final hundred or so pages. It's funny, creates a sense of anticipation in the reader enabling one to speculate on the story's development and look forward to what the characters are going to do. Then tying up the ends is too rushed. We want to know more about how the Phil/Catherine relationship develops, we want to see and hear it. We want more about little Sam and how he puts his gardening skills to use and how his personality develops. We need the dialogue between him, Philip and Catherine after he is found, and it is really unsatisfying that it isn't there.

Catherine is not billed as a main character and yet she dominates the latter half of the story, as if the author began to find her more interesting that any of the others. It would not be going too far to say that Holden ought to have begun all over again when she reached this point. It might have been a much more satisfying read.

Morag is a huge problem. She should be the comedy villain; she is funny, but just too angry. Any regular Holden readers will expect her to develop in a certain way as in former books. To then make her a sufferer of bipolar disorder in the final few pages is a deeply tasteless move. We have been given no chance to sympathise with this woman before, she has been a figure of ridicule, so giving her a serious mental illness is a lapse of sensitivity on a monumental scale. The editor should have addressed this issue firmly. It is not good to make a reader feel guilty for laughing.

The comedy potential of the New Agers is large, and never quite realised. The fertility garden plotline seemed to be reaching a climax (forgive the pun) with the full moon and the removal of the earth closet. Everything pointed to this, reader anticipation was built up of a glorious series of comic occurrences. I don't doubt this was what the author initially intended. It never happened. Some of the chapter was comic then it nosedived into a strange plot about the gold.

There are too many related but random elements thrown together in this book. It needed another re-write.
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on 1 December 2008
I was at Heathrow when I found this book left on the seats in the departure lounge. Now I know why. I read a couple of chapters, gave up, then borrowed it again from the local library in the hope that Wendy would go back to her old style of humourous prose. Alas, not in this book.

The good bits: Ms Holden does have a nice turn of phrase. The one liners are corkers. The bad: alas Filthy Rich has no real plot, and it's mainly a good excuse to poke fun at those country bumkins, as the Londoners move in and show them how to live.

However the characters are walking cliches, which show a complete lack of living in the country, and even the gardening tips are under researched (for which read, don't try them in real life).

I made it to the end, but goodness, apart from 10 pages right at the end, I was left with the feeling I'd read an amature essay turned in for an A level, rather than something from WH.
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