Springtime in Burracombe

Written by Lilian Harry
Review by Janet Williamson

This is the fourth of Lilian Harry’s Burracombe novels. It opens in the spring of 1953 with an accident befalling elderly Constance Bellamy, who is found and assisted by her old nursemaid, Minnie Tozer. Shortly after, Minnie contracts bronchitis and is nursed at home around the clock by her family. The youngest daughter, Jackie, comes at once from Plymouth despite being determined to live away from home and in the city. While nursing Minnie, the family is preoccupied with the well-being of Minnie’s great-granddaughters, premature twins Suzanne and Heather.

The villagers are concerned for Minnie and the twins but are experiencing a spirit of change and are full of optimistic hopes for “The New Elizabethan Age”. Encouraged by their new vicar, the villagers abandon their feuding and prepare to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation.

Weddings are planned, the newly-ordained vicar is full of confidence, and village life continues with gossip, personality clashes, and romantic concerns being resolved.

Tragedy strikes when it is least expected, leaving the Tozers bereft, but none more so than Minnie’s granddaughter-in-law Joanna. Her distress drives more than one relationship to the breaking point. Only the revelation of a secret restores the sense of perspective she needs to reconcile her feelings towards her family and village life.

The book ends at the home of the wealthy Napier family, when a young French woman arrives with her son, Robert. Her child is the heir to Burracombe.

Lilian Harry admirably weaves the full cast of characters through the story and uses the sights and sounds of spring to create atmosphere to good effect. No doubt all her fans will enjoy this book.