Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Anniversary by Ann Swinfen


15. The Anniversary
by Ann Swinfen
fiction,1996
Kindle book 11
finished 3/22/12


I cannot believe that I've never heard of Ann Swinfen; I, who collect author names and book titles like others collect milk glass or stamps. I was wondering the other day who wrote the same sort of books as Rosamunde Pilcher, and her name and this book came up in a review on Goodreads. It was .99 on the Kindle, so I thought I could give it a try. The first reading was five hours long. I couldn't stop.

I loved this story and the way it was told. It takes place over the course of one day, but includes memories from the past. The book begins with mention of a painting of St Martins, the family place. Do any of you have a painting of your house? I feel so fortunate because Tom's late step-father painted ours in 1994.
He was an amateur painter, but I feel he captured it quite well. Those shutters are gone now. The right lilac by the terrace was dug up to make room for flowers, and the big storm hadn't yet happened which took part of the old maple out front, and weakened the rest of it.

Coincidentally, The Anniversary begins in 1994.

St Martins is a community in the English countryside founded by the ninety-four year old matriarch of the family, Natasha and her late husband for artists of all kinds, refugees, and their own family. Some people stayed for a while, and others for a lifetime. This day in the book is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of St Martins. Old friends will be coming back, the family will gather, and memories will be relived.

This gathering includes people of all ages, which is one of the delights of the book. We see life through the eyes of the old, the middle-aged, the young, and children. The comparison with Rosamunde Pilcher comes from the setting, the rich characterizations, the sense of family, and the descriptions.
The big old kitchen at St Martins, with its range always hot, its large table and collection of unmatched chairs, had always been the general gathering place. The drawing room had been intended as the community's common room, but gradually had come to be used only for the monthly committee meetings. It was Natasha's domain, though anyone who wanted a quiet corner to read or think would gravitate towards it. The kitchen was the social centre.
I love the way the book goes from this day to another year and place. For example, as they are preparing the grounds for the celebration, Natasha says,
"When I was a girl in Russia, there were always pavilions in the gardens to shelter from the sun or the rain. So we had no need of such a thing as a marquee. But in your terrible English weather of June, nothing is certain."
That leads into the next section about that very life in Russia.
It is Petya's eighth birthday, and Mama and Papa have arranged a party.
And then the reader learns of that particular day and time. This happens over and over. It increases our knowledge of the characters and their lives. We learn of their experiences and their connections with one another over the years. The old become children, the middle-aged become young adults. I came to care greatly for many of these people.

If you'd like to know more before picking up this book, you may read a synopsis on the author's webpage. I just loved it. It offered everything I could want in a book.

10 comments:

  1. This was the book you spoke of recently. Sounds lovely. I wish they would put more of the Pilcher books in e-versions. I'd love to read them again. Beautiful picture of your home. The tulips are gorgeous as well.

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    1. It is quite wonderful.
      I suspect at some point they will, but then we'd miss those great covers!
      I so love the painting, and the tulips are from the store and were such a treat.

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  2. It sounds lovely! Only 0.99 on Kindle Store? Hmmm...
    What a wonderful thing to have, a painting of one's house! My parents, my sister and I all live in flats, and nobody has ever thought of painting any of the houses these flats are in, they are nothing special. But yours is beautiful and well worth being painted!

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    1. I think you'd like it. I wonder if your mother-in-law reads AS?
      Thank you! It is a great old house.

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  3. I've never heard of this author before, either, but I love your description of the book!

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    1. I can't understand why she isn't more famous over here.

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  4. You always make the best suggestions for books! Your descriptions immediately pique my interest and the next thing I know I'm out on Amazon adding it to my Kindle wish list so I can remember which one it is. I will definitely check this one out for only .99. Thank you for your great book reports. I've found some wonderful new authors because of you!

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    1. You made my day, Jill! Thank you so much.

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  5. Do you know I have one Pilcher novel (Coming Home) still yet to read?! I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. A slow, quiet week in the summer? Ha!

    This sounds like a wonderful book, Nan. And I'll bet you go on to read some of her other books. I may have to give this one a try. I wonder if my library has it. I can probably buy it for our NOOK, if it doesn't.

    Have you read Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons? It's about the only book of hers I really loved and it reminded me a little bit of The Shell Seekers. Not in locale, but more in that lovely detail of family and home. Someday, I'll read both again. Famous last words! ;)

    And how wonderful to have a painting of your home! It's beautiful. I have a wall hanging (quilted applique) that a friend made of our home. I'll have to share a picture of it one of these days.

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    1. I've not read that one either. I did begin it but was put off by a part so quit. There's a movie too with the great Joanna Lumley. I like parts of Rosamunde Pilcher more than the whole it seems. In each book there seems to be something that puts me off so much that I don't reread it. I actually enjoyed The Anniversary more than many RP books.
      I haven't read The Colony. I've read only one by her, which I may have told you - Up Island, which I really liked. In fact, I think I'd like to read it again.
      It is neat having that picture, especially because Roy painted it for us. He was a wonderful, gentle soul. They were married ten years, and now he's been gone ten.
      Oh, those people who are crafty! Looking forward to seeing it.

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