15. The Anniversary
by Ann Swinfen
Kindle book 11
by Ann Swinfen
Kindle book 11
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.