The gardens of Thrush Green were bright with irises and peonies, and the air
was murmurous with the sound of lawnmowers. But not all was idyllic.
This 8th installment in the series takes the reader on another delightful visit to Thrush Green. Not only are the regular residents "at home," but the book recounts the arrival of several new couples who move in to the newly completed senior-living apartment complex. Jane and her husband Bill are managers and caregivers of the facility and are discussing their concerns about how the residents will get along. Bill wisely replies, I expect they'll turn out like any other family, a good deal of affection spiced with bouts of in-fighting. Interestingly, they have a rough go of it until each of the residents finds a place in the community to use their gifts (i.e. to serve others).
The regular members of the neighborhood make an appearance in the novel too. I particularly enjoyed this reference to the three stingy Lovelock sisters: One Lovelock was intimidating enough, but in triplicate they were formidable. Nelly Piggot is a middle-aged woman, married to the town grouch. Most of the town folks hold her at arm's length because she left her husband for another man and then came back again. In this novel she finds a friend, finds her calling and comes into her own. So when the old boyfriend comes into town, she reacts in a way that the old Nelly could never have done.
These small episodes of British country life may not be great literature. But I find the repeated acts of grace (especially to the undeserving) to be soul-nourishing. And the good writing kicks it up to another level as well:
The whole world was white. The moonlight reflected from the snowy fields was intensified. In the garden of the pub next door, the small cherry tree cast a circular tracery of shadows on the white lawn. It was a tree which gave Nelly joy all through the year, from its first tiny leaves, its dangling white flowers, its scarlet fruit so quickly ravished by the birds, and then its final blaze of gold in autumn which it dropped, like a bright skirt, to the ground in November.