THE VICAR’S WIFE By Katharine Swartz

This is one of my first books to read by Katharine Swartz and I was duly impressed. The story is about two women, one living in the present day, Jane Hatton, and one in the 1030’s, Alice James. The Hatton’s are a fast paced, modern New York family. Jane and her husband both have busy careers and 3 children. She loves it and all the perks to living in the Big Apple. Her British born husband, Andrew decides it is time for them to move back to his homeland after their daughter falls in with the wrong crowd. The house they buy is a drafty, crumbling vicarage in the small, isolated town of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast. Jane moves into very house Alice James moved into as a newlywed. Alice was a 19 year old bride who married her true love, David James, the vicar of Goswell.
I enjoyed the way the author alternated chapters between Jane’s life and Alice’s. Jane did not want to leave her exciting lifestyle and found herself very negative and unhappy. She agreed because her husband had spent 16 years in America and she felt it was his turn to be home. Alice on the other hand was very excited about starting her new life and moving, but she struggled with leaving her father and the home she had always known. Each woman had a different attitude about their move, and each handled in in a different way, but the both faced many of the same struggles sand discontentment. The home was huge and dreary. The weather was relentlessly cold and bleak.
One day when Jane was attempting to begin the enormous job of turning the vicarage into a home, she finds a yellowed piece of paper with a shopping list on it. She becomes fascinated with learning about the woman who wrote the list. What was her life like? How did she feel living there?
As their stories unfold both women find their loneliness and despair increasing by their circumstances. Jane woman misses her career and doubts her ability to be happy and be a woman without it. Alice misses her husband who is at war and doubts her ability to be a vicar’s wife. Both women feel the awkwardness and rejection trying to fit in to the tight knit community. Their approach to facing unwelcome changes was a stark contrast between self-pity and loving sacrifice. I felt a part of both their world’s as they grew and learned their true strengths and weaknesses. The author’s writing was vivid in all her descriptions. I could feel how dark, depressing, and cold the home was. At some points I had to pull up some extra blankets because I could feel the chill! Her accounts of each woman’s emotions were so intense I actually felt their hurt, frustrations, and pain! A beautiful book, well written and very entertaining!
I received this book free from the publisher Kregel Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.