This is the first book by Louis de Bernieres that I have read since Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and I thought that that was so good that he would not be able to write another book as fine. This is a completely different sort of book but it is outstanding, beautifully written with sympathy, sensitivity and humour. Although it is about an English village, it is more than just that weaving together English village life with laugh out loud comedy, great sadness, wonderful characters, magic, and all sorts of other elements that go to making up the goodness and badness of life. I had not intended to read the book immediately, but I casually picked it up read the first few sentences of the first story and was hooked. Louis de Bernieres reveals great knowledge and acute observation on village life, on everything from gardening clubs to fishing. Through the whole book larger philosophical issues run. Excellent!