September

I’ve just finished reading September by Rosamunde Pilcher who is also the author of The Shell Seekers. The events in September happen four years after Penelope Keeling has died, Penelope being the main character in The Shell Seekers. Her son Noel is a character in both of these books. So, there is a timeline and a minor linking between the two if you want to read them chronologically, although September stands well enough on its own without reading the other book. I slightly prefer The Shell Seekers over September because September is slow to get rolling, but I recommend reading both books.

September is set in Scotland and Rosamunde’s descriptions make it sound very lovely as long as it’s not winter. It’s about the events from May through September 1988 leading up to a coming of age dance that brings all the characters together.

I like that there are several women in this book who are of a certain age and they were all kind of quirky. The single and windowed women in this book over 40 (and there are four of them) seem to be marked as the unhappy souls. I was hoping one of these older single women in the book could be someone who is having fun and enjoying her life, but that gets shot to hell toward the end of the book. Lottie is crazy, Edie was a nanny and is always helping someone with something, but not necessarily having her own life, and I can’t tell you about Pandora without giving away a couple of plot twists. She is definitely the fun and interesting one of the group and one of my favorite characters. Then there is Violet who is a major character throughout the book starting at the beginning and she is the last one we hear from at the end. Violet is a wise widow in her late seventies and at her birthday picnic she says this to herself,

“The worse part of getting old, Violet decided, was that happiness, at the most appropriate times, eluded one. She should feel happy now, but did not. Now was the afternoon of her birthday, and to all intents and purposes everything was perfect. No woman could ask for more.” (page 400-401)

And then she goes on to describe the beautiful scenery that she’s looking at, from high on a hill above a loch (which is a lake) in Scotland. And then she complains that family can be like a millstone around one’s neck. So, even the people with children don’t get a complete break in this book.

I questioned the plausibility of the decisions the characters make, both young and old. Henry, who is eight years old, is my most favorite character, and if you read this book, I think you’ll love him too. Edie is talking to Henry and explaining to him how his father’s his first wife died in this quote:

“Grief is a funny thing because you don’t have to carry it around with you for the rest of your life. After a bit you set it down by the roadside and walk on and leave it resting there.” (page 88)

The few things I’ve mentioned here make it sound like a downer, but a lot of good things happen in the book and it’s not overtly emotional. You’ll need to give it a little time for the story to get rolling and to feel invested in the characters. I recommend reading this anytime, even during your summer vacation. It’s a long one at 536 pages, so find your quiet place and start reading or listening.

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