I have been a fan of Katie Fforde’s books since the beginning, and thought A Wedding in the Country was up there among her best. Lizzie’s mother wants nothing more than to marry her daughter off to an eligible young man, and has been planning her wedding since she was a baby. To this end, Lizzie is sent to London to attend a cookery course. Much to her parents’ bewilderment, she wants to stay on in London when the course is over, and moves into the dilapidated Belgravia mansion her new friend, Alexandra, shares with David, a gay actor and antique dealer. Lizzie’s horizons are expanding, and she begins to realise she does not have to lead the life her mother has chosen for her.
The world building is excellent, the characters are well rounded and entirely believable, even the nasty ones, and the story gallops along at a fair pace. Compared with her earlier books, the romance is not particularly well developed, but perhaps that was deliberate. Lizzie seems a bit passive at times, but does stand up for herself when it really matters. I have no idea how she managed to live under the same roof as her mother for so long.
A Wedding in the Country is quintessential Katie Fforde – the familiar elements are there – middle-class, slightly naïve heroine with artistic leanings, focus on cooking or gardening, lots of dogs, and run-down but beautiful old houses. Only this time, the setting is mostly 1960s London, and it makes a refreshing change to go back and explore the attitudes and fashions of the time. I was still at primary school in 1963, but the suffocating parental behaviour depicted in this story is very familiar, and it makes for uncomfortable reading in places. This story shines a spotlight on how much things have changed for the better, for women, since the 1960s; but also how much they haven’t. Both Lizzie and Hugo had their futures mapped out for them by their respective parents but, the question is, do they have the courage to escape, and live the lives they want?
Thanks to Cornerstone Digital and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.