Mary Jane Staples’ books are usually set in the wilds of London, but in Rising Summer the main character, Tim Parkes, is billeted in the Suffolk village of Sheldham during the Second World War. At first Tim is completely thrown by country life, until he realises that there’s far more that’s similar about a life in the country than he thought.
There’s a charming romance storyline, withTim and Minnie at cross purposes until they’ve both grown up a fair bit, and realised that they might have cared for each other all along… It’s rather old fashioned in some of its ideas about family units (namely that women should becomes wives and have kids), but it’s sweet nonetheless!
I first fell across Staples when I was at school and was completely enchanted by the charming characters and witty prose, but on rereading it now, I’m struck by how similar Tim’s experience of country life is to mine.
I moved from South London to a small town in Sussex two years ago, and though the neighbours may not be as close as they might have been during the 1940s, it’s still warm and welcoming. I’ve been utterly enchanted by the quiet and the beauty of the local surroundings and discovered that there’s nowhere quite like the British countryside.