Published by Century
A Price for Everything by Mary Sheepshanks
Lady Sonia Duntan loves her family home although it is falling into ruin. She is determined to preserve the house and the lifestyle and almost wrecks her family in the process.
This book is hilariously funny in parts but also has some very sad passages. It is a tale of Sonia, Lady Duntan, and her quest to preserve the family home which is in disrepair and will cost a fortune to repair and maintain. Bits are falling from the ceiling and water comes in at numerous places. Sonia drifts through her days, paining for an upcoming exhibition, hoping for a miracle and alienating her husband.
The family are rich in land but have no cash so renovation is a real problem. What makes this book special is the quality of the language used, reminiscent of theAustinera but not coming over as pretentious and with a lot of humour. It reveals a glimpse of upper class English country life, drinks before dinner, drinks after, a wine cellar, port to finish, the son at boarding school, and the children allowed up late on special occasions. There is an estate manager, gardener, cook, and various other staff. The four children of the family are described excellently and are very likeable characters. There are also hilariously drawn characters like the dreadful cook who can’t cook, the rather grubby monk and the eccentric and very rich mother-in-law. There are gems of word pictures like, a bleakness in her voice ‘like an icy wind penetrating a Barbour’, or maintaining a stiff upper lip in a highly emotional situation, ‘get some tissues and let’s both suck on a polo to pull ourselves together.’
Both Sonia and her husband Archie both go off the rails a bit but are given lots of support and advice from their numerous friends. There is a satisfactory, if a bit predictable ending, but there is a typo error on page 136(paperback) and glaringly annoying spelling mistakes, ‘sewing’ seeds instead of ‘sowing’, and ‘pearl’ instead of ‘purl’ describing knitting, but as I frequently say, proofing is not what it used to be.
This is a quick but quality read.