It is 1947, the worst winter in England since records began, and even the sea is frozen. For the women living in the little fishing port of Bexham, the chronic lack of everything from fuel to food has left them reeling. When Waldo Astley drives through thick Sussex snow into the village in his large American Buick, it is to find Bexham filled not just with grumbling residents, but frustrated wives and mothers forced back behind their stoves after the joy of the victory for which they fought so hard on the home front. Government directives have ensured that the returning men resumed the jobs their women managed so brilliantly through the gruelling years of war. But Waldo is no ordinary character, and while he has come to Bexham on a personal mission, his effect on all the residents is as warming as the electricity of which there is still such a shortage. For Judy, whose marriage to Walter has been badly affected by long years of separation; for Rusty, whose miscarriage has been mind-shattering; for Mathilda, whose single motherhood has put her eligibility in jeopardy, and for Meggie, still not recovered from her alter ego as a secret agent.
No matter what the age or circumstances of the person, Waldo Astley is not just a breath of fresh air - but the wind off the sea.
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(234mm x 156mm x mm)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
The year is 1947, and in the English seaside village of Bexham the townsfolk are huddled together in the coldest winter on record. Then one snowy night, in blows the handsome Waldo Astley, a mysterious American who changes the lives of everyone he meets. And so begins Charlotte Bingham's latest tale: 500 pages of poorly executed melodrama and unimaginative writing. The potentially interesting themes in this story - post-Second World War Britain and a woman's place in it - are bypassed in favour of unresolved storylines and one-dimensional characters. Waldo comes rolling into town and magically solves everyone's problems. He is there on a personal quest to find his mother, and also to work as a spy for the stuffy Hugh Tate. While he's at it, he 'discovers' the painting genius that is Hugh's wife Loopy, buys flashy cars, boats, and seaside homes on a whim, teaches the older generation to take risks and even manages to make the younger generation fall in love again. Even the old vicar learns the errors of his ways: a wisecrack from the affable Astley proves a turning point in Reverend Anderson's life, and renews his faith. Perhaps the overall implausibility of this book could have been forgiven were it not for the bloated passive voice prose, the repetitive prepositional phrasing, and utter absence of editorial revision. The characters are incapable of realistic speech; each conversation is nothing more than plot exposition in quotation marks. And although the characters led interesting lives - Meggie, for example, was a double agent - Bingham fails to make them at all exciting, instead preferring to bog them all down in story lines that lead nowhere, foreshadowing that doesn't pay off and clunky prose. A wasted opportunity. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Charlotte Bingham
Charlotte Bingham comes from a literary family - her father sold a story to H G Wells when he was only seventeen - and Charlotte wrote her autobiography, Coronet Among the Weeds, at the age of nineteen. Since then, she has written comedy and drama series, films and plays for both England and America with her husband, the actor and playwright Terence Brady. Among her most recent novels are the highly acclaimed bestsellers To Hear a Nightingale, The Business, Change of Heart (winner of the 1994 Romantic Novel of the Year Award), DEBUTANTES, IN SUNSHINE OR IN SHADOW, STARDUST, NANNY, THE NIGHTINGALE SINGS, GRAND AFFAIR, LOVE SONG, THE LOVE KNOT, THE KISSING GARDEN, THE BLUE NOTE, THE SEASON, SUMMERTIME and DISTANT MUSIC.