Country Living by Jen Silver

You know that children’s party game ‘Pass The Parcel’ where the kid holding the wrapped parcel when the music pauses gets to unwrap one layer of the multi-layered wrapping, and there’s a new wrapping underneath as a surprise? That’s what this story is. It’s a wlw pass the parcel. A plot twist turns up when you least expect it. It’s personal drama, couples drama, family drama, village drama. 

What was the book about?
When Peri Sanderson achieves her dream of moving from London to a cottage in the English countryside, she expects her domestic bliss will be complete when her wife, Karla, leaves her London job to join her. Peri sees their future together as growing vegetables, tending some chickens, and chatting with the locals by a roaring log fire in a quaint village pub. Sexy urbanite, Karla, has other ideas and they don’t include a move to the countryside. Secrets are everywhere. Peri quickly senses something not quite right among her rural neighbours, and Karla is not quite the worldly wise woman-about-town that she thinks she is.Temptation, betrayal and intrigue combine to change the lives of both women beyond anything they could have imagined. 

Featured Tropes
Cheating, Drugs, Slow-burn, Older lesbian, Divorce.

Book Strengths
Jen Silver writes like those people who tell you a story over a cup of tea and start off chronologically but then remember a bit they left out so they pop it in, then keep going, but tell it from someone else’s perspective because that’s how they heard it first, then settle back into the chronology again. It’s endearing. 

Country Living is told from multiple perspectives. You get Peri, Karla, Syd (Karla’s rich lover), Dani (Peri’s best friend), Sharon (Dani’s wife), Martin (the neighbour), Hayley (neighbour), Bean (neighbour’s daughter), Rory (neighbour’s son), Raven (Peri’s new love interest) all telling their side of the main stories and letting us see briefly into a new story that’s developing entirely on its own. It could drive some readers a bit bonkers because it’s like peeking in windows but not stopping to get a good look, but I liked it.

Book weaknesses
We are left in no doubt who the ‘villain’ of the story is. The consequences of her actions hit Karla again and again as her life disintegrates. In fact, as one brick is taken from the foundations holding her life together, another is added to Peri’s, therefore solidifying her life-change decision. There is one point when I drew in a sharp breath because I thought the consequence about to befall Karla was too harsh. She avoids it, which I was glad about, because it would have been all too much; like hitting a nail with an anvil. Dani and Sharon are written in as the counterbalance to Peri and Karla’s exploding-to-pieces marriage. If there’s a weakness here, it’s that we are not given any opportunity to form or bring our own opinion about cheating to this story. Our opinion is already there for us. Luckily, I went in with that viewpoint already.

This is a tiny negative; I really disliked the title. Country Living. There was so much more to this book that those two words, and they don’t do the story justice.

Character Chemistry
The chemistry between Karla and Syd is loud and incendiary, and the sex scenes feature two women desperate with need. This is the point. Karla is addicted. Addicted to her next conquest, her next sex partner, the next secret she can keep from Peri. Syd is also addicted, except her addiction is to use sex as a tool to manipulate. 

Peri and Raven’s chemistry is quiet and gorgeous. I actually wish we’d seen more of their romance. 

Heat Rating
3 flames

It is a mesmerising sport to watch the path people travel when they are followed by the consequences of their actions. For Peri, her path is new, even at sixty years of age, but a lifetime of path-making experience trails behind her. I reckon she will be absolutely fine. 

Star Rating
4 stars


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