Country Pursuits by Jo Carnegie

Chicklit is not a favourite genre of mine, but I’m glad I picked this book up.  It is set in Churchminster, an affluent village in the Cotswolds, and we follow a number of the residents as they go about their lives.  Caro Belmont is married to the arrogant Sebastian and is worried that he might be having an affair (he is, as we find out within the first few pages).  Meanwhile her sister Camilla is feeling unfulfilled in her relationship with beer swilling farmer Angus, and both girls are worried at the news that their youngest sister, the outrageous Calypso, is returning to the village.  Their grandmother Clementine Standington-Fulthrope is the matriarch of the family, and watches over her brood with equal mixtures of strictness and love.

Other residents in the village have their own problems – at the age of thirty, Camilla’s best friend Harriet is despairing of ever losing her virginity, and Freddie Fox-Titt just can’t understand why he is feeling so lethargic and wanting to eat huge amounts of chocolate!

The whole village is excited when former pop star Devon Cornwall moves into the area, but an even bigger shock awaits them, as an evil land developer wants to buy part of their hometown and build a huge building estate on it.  All of a sudden, everyone pulls together in an effort to thwart his efforts…will the Save Churchminster Ball and Auction be enough to raise the money they need to buy the threatened land themselves?  Will Mick Jagger turn up at the ball?  And will certain members of the community find the strength within themselves that they need to make themselves happy?

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s very light-hearted, and moves quickly.  Characterisation is not particularly deep (Sebastian for example, is practically a cardboard cut out character), but Jo Carnegie’s quick wit and perceptive sense of humour makes this a pleasure to read.  (I giggled all the way through one excruciating dinner party scene, and the book often made me laugh out loud.)

It’s unself-consciously outrageous in parts, with some of the most over-the-top character names imaginable, but it’s easy to lose yourself in Churchminster life even if this depiction of wealthy rural life is often verging on satirical.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read, and I would definitely be interested in reading more by Jo Carnegie.

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