This book gives you insight into the life of a British Rector's wife. I never realized how much they are expected to do for the church without recognition! The heroine is living this restricted life, she comes to realize her unhappiness, and does something about it.
Very interesting novel based on one woman's attempt to find herself while dealing with the assigned role that comes with her husband's career. I was left reflecting on the expectations for a wife that come with a husband's religious or military career. Enjoyable read!
For the past two decades, the Bouveries have served God and their parish in a myriad of ways. As minister of his congregation, Peter Bouverie has always written such powerful sermons, preached to the faithful, and counselled so many troubled couples. Everyone in the tiny parish of Loxford also knows of the rector's wife Anna - she is so dutiful, organized, prayerful, and self-possessed. In fact, Anna Bouverie is nothing if not absolutely perfect for the position - she is the quintessential minister's wife.
Over the past twenty years, Anna has become a mother figure to so many people. She has made sure suppers were organized at the deanery; baked cakes for the Brownies' annual 'Easter Cake Bake'; delivered parish magazines; washed and ironed her husband's surplices for every Sunday service - although perhaps not as neatly as she should - or so some of Peter's more ardently faithful parishioners like to whisper. Anna has always been frugal with the family's funds: she has grown her own vegetables and clothed herself and her three children in left-over items bought from various jumble sales. She has always done these duties without complaint or indeed, any expectation of praise from others.
Anna Bouverie considers herself to be the most unassuming of women, and is quite content in her role as the wife of the parish's rector. However, she has no idea just how much or how quickly that role will change - or how much one specific incident will provide the impetus for Anna to change her life. After Peter fails to receive a promotion to archdeacon of Loxford, he retreats into a shell of isolated bitterness. As a result of his perceived personal humiliation, Peter soon begins to take the anger and frustration he feels out on those around him.
Although she initially does her best to understand his plight and to offer her husband a sympathetic ear whenever he needs one the most, Anna finds herself becoming more and more frustrated by Peter's increasingly dismissive treatment of her. When she learns that her younger daughter has recently become the target of some serious and extensive bullying at the local school, Anna discovers that she has reached her own personal breaking point. It soon becomes clear to her that she has allowed an inordinate amount of complacency and dutifulness to replace living her own life...Anna suddenly rebels. Taking a job in the local supermarket Anna soon begins earning some extra money; a better sense of her own worth; the shocked disapproval of the parish; as well as the ice-cold and sustained fury of her husband.
As Anna is beginning to find her own way in life, she is observed with a certain amount of passionate interest by three significant men. Each of these men will play his own specific role in the part-tragic, part-triumphant blossoming of Anna's life. Their individual stories will eventually become intertwined for a time with Anna's own personal journey through her life.
I must say that I enjoyed this book very much and it is the second book by Joanna Trollope that I've had the pleasure of reading. Although I haven't read that many books by this author before, she seems to be exactly the kind of writer that I prefer. I would definitely give this book an A+! and look forward to the next Joanna Trollope book that I read.
I found the topic to be very interesting. I never gave it much thought as to what it must be like to be the wife of a rector, minister or church leader. The characters are believable as are their struggles. The children of the rector feel that they have to behave above board. The wife feels she has to be this perfect little wife who supports her husband. The members of the church think they own the rector and that they have a right to judge the family and their private decisions.
Ann is the Rector's wife. She scrimps to get by on the pittance the Church pays while keeping up appearances for the gossipy villagers. She rarely complains and rarely rebels. But now--as she watches her children suffer for lack of funds, as her husband turns cold and withdraws further into his work, her frustration mounts into fury and she comes to realize she's willing to do whatever it tkes to save herself.