A Surrey State of Affairs

I originally picked up A Surrey State of Affairs with the thought “they can’t mean THE Surrey”.  Sure enough, it was a book (being sold in a US bookshop) set in Surrey, England.  And not just set in Surrey, a book lingering heavily in the ‘ladies who lunch’ set of Surrey.  The type of people who consider the problems in your life may stem from doing your food shop at Sainsburys instead of Waitrose.

After reading Home by Toni Morrison I needed a mental break and Surrey seemed to be the way to go.  A light and fluffy book about the minutea of life in the perfect English town.

Constance is the typical middle aged mom.  Two children pretty much grown and on their own, but reluctant to take their proper places in Mom’s storybook life.  A husband who seems not to see her.  Help that doesn’t live up to the standard of her mother’s day.  And yet, life seems pretty good.  Bell ringing at church once a week.  Visiting Mother on Sunday after church.

And then life starts to unravel and Constance and husband end up on a mid-life crisis trip.  Much adventure ensues.

I know that most of this adventure was supposed to be the bulk of the plot and I was probably supposed to be a little bored reading all about the day to day life of Constance.  I was supposed to wonder when the action was going to start and really enjoy the ending of the book.

However, I found myself doing the opposite.  I loved the build up.  Sure, I know it’s largely because I love English life and it’s rare to get a book that wallows so completely in it.  But I also felt like I knew Constance.  I’ve lived in Surrey.  I’ve known women who fit this exact description and I thought Radford wrote her well.

Sure, there are somewhat inevitable upheavals in her life that send her out of her comfort zone.  Those were interesting too, but I didn’t find them as well written.  As if, since Constance was taking leave of her perfectly ordered life the writing could get a little sloppier as well.

All in all, it was a fun book.  It was easy to read, though I rarely felt the urge to just pick it up and read a little more.  I didn’t get pulled into the plot, but I did enjoy my peek into the life of Constance.

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