The Courtyard by Marcia Willett

This was a typical Willett-makes it seem like England is stuck in the 1940s (sample comment to heavily pregnant woman, encourages her not to cry too much for fear of hurting the baby, instead sit down and have a glass of bourbon.) It’s a modern portrayal of a titled landowner who has tenants and develops part of his property into houses that he sells,but then everyone becomes a tight knit little community. This was intriguingly “historical” in that it was set in a very specific time-the 1980s and just after the Falklands War.  It seemed to be set in this time so that everything could tie in to the dreadful real estate market.

There was a lot going on in this:Nell’s dreadful marriage, her husband John couldn’t make it out of the Navy, she doesn’t work, but her 8 year old is off at boarding school, he ruins their finances and lives.  Nell’s marriage really is such a mess, but it was a bit maddening to read about John financially ruining them while she just stood by and wrung her hands for fear of offending him.  Then we have Nell’s elderly friend who is a cousin to the guy who owns the Courtyard. She is genteely impoverished and gone to live at his estate.  He is married to a scheming  awful woman who is set up as so immoral and horrid that when the book tries to show you that she has changed and developed empathy for others, well my feelings could not be turned.

I like Willett, but this one was a wee bit draggy.


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