The year is 1966, a crucial year in the lives of Amy and Roger Large and their family. Living in a vast, ramshackle farmhouse in the wilds of Hampshire and surviving by a combination of small-scale farming and taking in a motley assortment of lodgers, their rural lives may seem idyllic to some. But pressures are gathering and, in 1966, they come to a head, forcing them to evaluate their eccentric way of life and question, in a changing world, how much longer they can sustain it.
Escaping office politics and taking on a decrepit manor house with land seemed a great adventure for a young couple in the 1950s but now in the mid-60s with three demanding children and three exasperating lodgers to help pay the bills, Amy and Roger are at their wit’s end. Roger decides to breed 50 turkeys in time for Christmas while Amy accepts an extra lodger, the charming Angus. Meanwhile a new wealthy family moves into the area, becoming an active part of all their lives and making Amy aware of the success Roger could have, if he returned to his previous career.
This novel captures the reader with the warmth of Amy’s extended family and the fascinating quirks of the characters we meet. Amongst the lodgers are Percy, am amateur artist who finds himself entangled with two elderly sisters whose house he is painting and Kay, a lonely spinster in a caravan who loves to dance on the lawn in the early morning. Colour and humour are infused by Maria the blunt, miserable au pair and Vittorio, her irresistible boyfriend, who suddenly arrives from Italy. We witness Amy’s daughter Tess exploring her first relationships with the opposite sex and despairing that she lives in the middle of nowhere. And Amy herself, always tired, constantly looking after everyone but an assertive personality wildly respected and loved.
This is a feel-good story despite deceit and disaster, because the family and friendships endure. We care what happens to the characters and we follow their story through into the future. A recommended read for a window into gentler times.
Amy’s Children on Amazon UK
Peter Davey was born near Oxford and now lives in the ancient town of Winchelsea on the Sussex Coast. He is a professional artist who has always written stories, novels and poetry and has come to devote more time to this in latter years. He has always lived in the country and finds it a constant source of inspiration, both for writing and painting, and his aim is to write the sort of books he enjoys reading – witty, ironic and contemporary, with flawed but likeable characters and ultimately life-affirming. He has also written four novels in French, being a Francophile and lover of the French language. He is married with two grown-up children and his passions are music, world cinema, history, dog walking and ornithology.