by Rosamunde Pilcher, 1990

Delightful soap opera set in mid-1970s Scotland. It’s 613 pages long. I got the book from a little-free library. First, Mom read it and loved it. Then, Carol read it and loved it. She said it takes you away to Scotland, and it certainly does. A rural village in Scotland with rich people and poor people and a crazy person and Indian immigrant shop-keepers who save the day, and an 8-year old boy named Henry, and lovers, and friends, and family, and marital discord, and haunting pasts, and a beloved sister coming home after 20 years away. It was a fantastic book and she spared no detail in describing Scottish manors and cottages, and the Scottish landscape and weather. I loved this book!

Here’s a paragraph where Noel Keeling, one of the men in the story who you are not sure whether you like him – only if he does the right thing and marries Alexa! He’s reminiscing his deceased mother:

“Nourishing useless resentment was far too exhausting. And at the end of the day he had to admit that he hadn’t come out of it all too badly. As well, he missed her. During the last years he had seen little of her, closeted as she was in the depths of Gloucestershire, but still she was always there–at the end of a telephone, or at the end of a long drive when you felt you couldn’t stand the hot summer streets of London a moment longer. It didn’t matter if you went alone or took half a dozen friends for the weekend. There was always space, a relaxed welcome, delicious food, everything or nothing to do. Fires flickering, fragrant flowers, hot baths; warm comfortable beds, fine wines, and easy conversation.”

Here’s where she is describing how little boy, Henry, is terrified to go over to Grandma’s cottage because there is a nasty giraffe that will come in from the garden:

“For Heaven’s sake! What comes in?”

‘He could see it. With great tall spotted legs, and a long thin spotted neck, and great big yellow teeth with its lips curled back, ready to pounce, or bite.

“A horrible giraffe.”

‘His mother was confounded. “Henry, have you gone out of your mind? Giraffes live in Africa, or zoos. There aren’t any giraffes in Strathcroy.”

There are!” He shouted at her stupidity. “She said so. She said there was a horrible giraffe that came out of the garden, and through the door and into her sitting-room. She told me so.”

‘There was a long silence. He stared at his mother and she stared back at him with her bright blue eyes but she never smiled.

‘At last she said, “She wasn’t telling you that there was a giraffe, Henry. She was telling you that there was a draught. You know, a horrid, shivery draught.”

Just like Adam when he was a little boy at Moffett Drive and we said there was a draft coming in the front door and his eyes got really, really big, and we realized he thought we were saying a Giraffe was coming in the front door. So cute!

When Noel is in Violet’s cottage (she is the grandmother), he is looking around at all the charming things and says:

“You follow the rules of William Morris….You have nothing in your house that you don’t know to be useful nor think to be beautiful.” Wayne has often quoted that.

Loved this book – it took me to rural Scotland, full of intriguing characters and drama.