Book review: The Villagers by A.J. Griffiths-Jones

I’m delighted to share my review of A. J. Griffith-Jone’s The Villagers.

The Villagers A.J. Griffiths-Jones

About The Villagers

Olive & Geoffrey are happier than ever. After moving to the countryside to bring up their three young children, they are welcomed with open arms by the friendly and helpful residents of the chocolate box village.

But beyond the veil of rhododendrons and net curtains, there is something more. Just as Olive is settling in and starting to integrate with the community, she finds out that all is not as it first seemed.

As her discoveries become more and more sinister, Olive begins to fear for her own sanity. With her husband doubting her, Olive is faced with choices that will decide the fate of her family.

The Villagers paints an intriguing picture of a 1950s English country village, where not everyone is who they first appear to be.

My thoughts

What a treat it is to pick up a novel and be catapulted back to a time when fiction was fiction and didn’t have to bow to the dictates of genre. The Villagers is, as the title suggests, a portrait of a small village, or rather a series of portraits of the characters in it.

The novel opens on a feel-good scene as out-of-towners Olive and Geoff and their three young children settle into their new home in a quaint village in Shropshire. But there will be no doubt in the reader’s mind that all is not as it seems as Olive is introduced to all those smiling, welcoming faces. Everyone, she soon discovers, has a secret. What unfolds, chapter by chapter, are the true stories of a set of characters in 1950s rural England.

Initially The Villagers is highly descriptive with echoes of old-fashioned, almost childhood storytelling, but that should by no means put off those used to modern prose, for here we have something charming and intriguing, drawing us back to a bygone era both in the story and the manner in which it is told.

Each chapter is a character study and what colourful and quirky characters the villagers all turn out to be! The plotting and pacing are good. Griffiths-Jones peppers her prose with humour, yet she remains sympathetic to all of her creations.

Well-written with subtle and gentle irony, reminiscent of the very era she writes, Griffiths-Jones has penned a novel that will warm the hearts of her readers. The Villagers is based on true testimony, too, which makes it all the more delicious to read.

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