Title: A Village Affair
Author: Julie Houston
Publication Date: 11/06/2018
Cassie Beresford seems to have everything. That is until the charity auction where it’s publicly revealed her husband has been cheating on her with her best friend for the past two years. Then she’s suddenly promoted to head teacher with no notice. Oh, and the fields in her tiny village are targeted by developers intent on mass housing. Though feeling overwhelmed and defeated, Cassie rises and tackles the challenges, all while balancing great friends, two teenagers, and maybe even new love.
Some books utilize a slow burn, opening softly, letting readers get used to the new world. Author Julie Houston does not use this technique. Instead, the opening pages practically explode out of the book, with a very public revelation of Cassie’s husband, Mark’s, affair. It’s tragic and biting, but it’s also tinged with the humor that’s abundant throughout the rest of the book.
And it’s deeply funny. My copy is littered with highlights because there are just so many sections that made me laugh. Cassie is a likable, relatable character, and much of this stems from her scenes as an educator. Here, Houston writes with beautiful honesty, and anyone who has ever felt insecure in a job will immediately find a companion in Cassie.
A bit of a posh woman moving on from her husband and learning to love herself is enough book for anyone, but Houston presses on with a fields plotline. Edward Bamforth wants to build new housing the fields, against much of the village’s wishes, and things are further complicated when romantic interests are piqued between two characters. A different author could have completely muddled the wonderfully intricate threads, but Houston seamlessly weaves the action around Cassie’s ultimate development.
I do want to give special mention to Julie Houston’s positive discussion of sexuality in this book. Early on it becomes apparent that Cassie’s teenage son, Tom, is questioning his sexuality. It’s handled in a deeply sensitive way that I think, overall, could be a guide for parents. I was personally very pleased to see this type of inclusion and I think it’s one of the best portrayals of Questioning youth where it wasn’t the focus of the book.
This book is a bit of a roller coaster. Infidelity is a difficult topic, and the aftermath is rarely neat and tidy. However, Houston knows how to manipulate a story so that the reader is always on their toes as characters struggle and jest toward their own answers. The result is a wickedly funny read with heart.
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.