Storm Over Burracombe

Written by Lilian Harry
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

This well-crafted, heart warming, page-turning story is a light rustic romance, set in the Devon of 1952. Interwoven sub-plots of three or four coincident love stories cleverly weave a masterly picture of village life as women gain their rightful position in the work place. Characters are well shaped, of all ages and classes. Some use dialect in a charming way, calling females my maid, my bird or my pretty.

The storm of the title is the one which caused the Lynton and Lynmouth disaster. There are other reminiscences of 1952—rationing and shortages, John Wayne films and the army in Germany. I remember it well so I doubt coffee would have been drunk in a farmhouse kitchen.

Hilary Napier runs her father’s large estate. When he brings in a manager she feels resentful. Her conflict with Travis Kellaway then pervades the book. The pantomime run by the curate and his developing love for the schoolteacher further bind the story. There is a remarkable and touching friendship between an older man and a woman who could have been his daughter. Masterly description of a poaching drama at night, which results in the sad injury to a child, who has an important part in the pantomime, adds pathos.

Sensitive and elegant writing gives excellent geographical detail of Devon towns as Lilian Harry captures the warmth and everyday drama of a village in this, the third of her Burracombe novels.

This is the third of this author’s books I have been pleased to review.