A Perfect Vicarage Affair
I had a load of fun writing this one. Aga sagas and chick-lit were the dominant genres at the time, and I came across one too many middle-class rural wives with picture-perfect sophisticated children and designer homes. Well, maybe there was a vicars’ wife somewhere who was openly combative and maybe quite shrill and unpleasant too; and maybe her children are definitely not Oxbridge material. Maybe one of them is a total failure and the other is plain and unpopular. Next, it’s likely that her husband is growing complacent now, after being lucky in his job at first, and too good at securing the approval of parish organisers. Throw in a few eccentric locals, add a self-important Artistic Man, stir vigorously with Cathedral schools and a desirable Head of Music… let the resulting mixture ignite when fully baked.
The first book has since been followed by parts 2 and 3, A Tiny Rural Parsonage and A Small Corner of Paradise. In the continuing saga of our trouble-hit family, the Devaudens relocate to an isolated parish at the wrong end of the county, where rural deprivation has left the population underpowered and unimpressed. So they’re not too happy when a new-broom vicar slides in to take possession of the old building down the road with a bit of a reputation, and they definitely don’t like it when the ever-entrepreneurial Alice steams over the horizon fresh from her stay in a psychiatric unit. You know it’s not going to end in a bed of roses, but fortunately there’s the final book in the series, outlining what happens when the demoted and increasingly desperate cleric lands back in Chesterham for a last crack at the mission.
This time Derek has got himself a job-share enemy and a disused church near the Bus Station – the perfect venue for a concert series, he thinks. As ever, his children are bound to make a mess of things, and Alice throws herself once again into the orbit of Dr. Carmody, the eligible bachelor who commands the artistic programme at the Cathedral School. But their old Vicarage at Harbourne Cross is divided into three flats now, and one of them is occupied by none other than Thoby Willson-Ketter, Renaissance man and ladies’ favourite, who has his own agenda with a well-paid sinecure at Bransbury University. As the loose ends are tied up, we know it’s the end of the line for the Devauden parents – but it’s been an enjoyable ride for the writer of this saga, and I hope it proves entertaining for most of the readers. You never can tell.
Parts 2 and 3 are available on Kindle; and while the three novellas are self-published and easy to revise, I’m always happy to hear from readers and writers who have constructive criticism. There seems to be no such thing as a final draft, only the point where you have to say ‘all right, I’ve surely done enough now and I genuinely can’t think of anything else to add’.