The Vagabond Vicar
The story concerns a young vicar, William Brook, who dreams of working as a missionary abroad; instead he is sent to a sleepy little village in Shropshire. He fears the loss of his dreams and resists getting too involved in the community, pleading to be released and sent to somewhere more exciting. Naturally, someone will get in the way of his plans.
Ms Brentwood weaves a pleasing tale, if not one that leaves one guessing at the outcome. Her characters are vivid and she brings them to life on the page, capturing the small-mindedness of a remote community with care. One of the strengths of the novel is that Ms Brentwood keeps track of all her characters – no one is forgotten and few are only there as a plot device. There is one character in particular, Lord Roxborough, who is intriguing and I strongly advise Ms Brentwood to add his story to her list of proposed novels – I’d love to know more of him!
It is not perfect, there are typos dotted throughout, missing words and misspellings, and I would question her knowledge of how the English church works (a dean in London with the ability to post a vicar outside of his diocese would not happen), but there is nothing that a bit of editing and a touch more research cannot fix, and it will not spoil the novel for any but the most ardent of perfectionists.
An unashamedly romantic novel, The Vagabond Vicar moves along at a great pace and is never boring. There is enough love and sentiment but rarely too much, and there are plenty of sub-plots to keep everything interesting. A lover of Georgian romance will enjoy this, particularly as it is not solely concerned with earls and dukes, but takes a wider view of the world. An indulgent read.