13 March 2014

The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz, Book review

  • Series: Tales from Goswell
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Fiction; 1st New edition edition (October 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782640707


A powerful drama of domestic life following two memorable women who shared a house eighty years apart!
A New Yorker all her life, Jane Hatton loved her job as the head of a charity championing women’s rights, but her fourteenyear- old daughter, Natalie, had fallen in with the wrong crowd at her Manhattan school. So Jane and her British husband, Andrew, have decided to move their family to the English countryside.
The Hattons have bought the large old vicarage in a small village on the Cumbrian coast, near Andrew’s new job. The silence and solitude of a remote village is quite a change. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? What of her career? Her own identity?
Putting on a brave face for the family, Jane tackles renovating the rambling, drafty old house. When she finds a scrap of a very old shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before.
As the twin narratives unfold—of Jane in the present and Alice in the 1930s—we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.

My Thoughts:

I might not have ever heard of The Vicar's Wife had it not been for it being a gift and the combination of both contemporary and historical fiction, intriguing. Set on Britain's Cumbrian coast, this is the touching story of not just one but two women who tried to do the best they could under the circumstances.

Jane is an American who follows her British husband to Goswell in Cumbria. Andrew has lived for 16 1/2 years in New York and feels it is time to relocate his family.
Uprooting his wife and children however to live in an old vicarage brings a few challenges, not the least being his wife's obvious lack of enthusiasm for village life. His mother is only too happy to have everyone 'back home' and feels necessary to point out Jane is just not trying to fit in.

When she discovers a decades old little shopping list in the old parsonage, Jane is intrigued by the author, Alice James and begins inquiries to find out more about the young vicar's wife.

The Vicar's Wife alternates between Jane and Alice's lives, with both women experiencing similar emotions in regard to their new circumstances. Uprooted to be with their husband, they fear the combined Cumbrian somber weather and state of the crumbling old parsonage will never allow them to feel truly 'at home'.

Katharine Swartz' writing is pleasurable and having herself experienced life on both sides of the pond, spot on!
I found it difficult to sympathize with Jane's shallow character though and felt her family justified in their mixed reactions. I will grant it is never easy when one is thrust into an entirely different society (having learned it first hand!)
Alice on the other hand captivated my imagination and I wish there had been more written about her.
The end ties up nicely yet again, more could have been said. 

A good read none the less and worth 4 stars! 

Meet the Author:

After spending three years as a diehard New Yorker, Katharine Swartz now lives in the Lake District with her husband, an Anglican minister, their five children, and a Golden Retriever. 
She enjoys such novel things as long country walks and chatting with people in the street, and her children love the freedom of village life--although she often has to ring four or five people to figure out where they've gone off to!
She writes women's fiction as well as contemporary romance for Mills & Boon Modern under the name Kate Hewitt, and whatever the genre she enjoys delivering a compelling and intensely emotional story.

Visit her website (HERE)

Note to Readers: This was a gift and all opinions mine only!


  1. Sounds like a good book, Noelle. I wanted to thank you for your honest response to Jess' post. I think me and you grew up in an age where you had to treat books with respect, but I also like the idea of loving that book and making it a part of yourself. I have highlighted notes from biblical books and go back to them as a reminder. I think that I tend to be more relaxed with the paper back books, but the classic hard back books I can't help but treat them special, as they have been around forever. I loved your comment today and appreciated it very much.

    Have a happy Friday, dear.


    1. Thanks Sheri and you are right, another generation perhaps and definitively different rules. We were made to write in a notebook any references, it seemed hard work at first but most of us also retained the information far better this way...Guess it all depends on who is teaching, right?
      God bless Dear!

  2. The older I get the more I like stories about everyday life to much excitement is now just keeps me awake and as I often read before I go to bed.


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