September, by Rosamunde Pilcher is one of those books I enjoy reading every few years in, well, September! Pilcher is well-known for her character-driven epic stories of British families headed by wise and wonderful matriarchs in such titles as The Shell Seekers and Winter Solstice, and September is no exception.
78-year-old Violet loves to garden at her home called Pennyburn, in the village of Strathcroy, in the highlands of Scotland. Violet is visited one May day by a neighbor called Verena, who elicits her advice about throwing a huge dance party for Verena's daughter Katy's 21st birthday in September, to which nearly everyone in town (and beyond) would be invited. On the guest list is Violet's son Edmund and his wife, an American named Virginia, who are embroiled in an emotional conflict about whether their young son, Henry, ought to go to boarding school. Also to be invited are Laird Archie and Lady Isobel Balmerino, who falling on hard times have turned their manor home into an Inn for tourists. Isobel muses:
“...As you grew older you became busier, and time went faster and faster, the months pushing each other rudely out of the way, and the years slipping off the calendar and into the past. Once, there had been time. Time to stand, or sit, and just look at daffodils. Or...on the spur of the moment, walk out of the back door and up the hill, into the lark-song emptiness of a summer morning.”
Most compelling, Archie's dazzling and long-missed sister Pandora, who ran off to Majorca 20 years ago after having had an unfortunate affair, is considering the invitation. Violet says:
"One thinks of parties, and one automatically thinks of Pandora....What a shot in the arm it would be for poor Archie. And if anything would bring that errant creature back...it would be the lure of a full-blown dance."
Some of the younger guests to be included are Alexa, Violet's granddaughter, (Edmund's daughter from his first marriage) and her new boyfriend Neil, and Archie and Isobel's daughter Lucilla who is traveling in Europe with a friend and meets up with Pandora.
September is filled with the thoughts and emotions of Pilcher's many colorful characters, and is a cozy read in spite of a couple jarring events and and a menacingly mad relative. It was published in 1990, and reads like an historical novel complete with chance re-encounters and sweeping Scottish landscapes. You can check out this title from your local library or on your devices using your library card and the free Libby app. The Audiobook is delightfully narrated by Jilly Bond, who can make you hope to get stuck in traffic.
Hardcover 536 pages, Audiobook 20 hours, 15 minutes.
What are you reading now? Do you have any favorite novels featuring older adult characters to recommend? Please leave your comments below! We love to hear from you. All my best, Gaili
P.S. If you like short stories you might also enjoy Rosamunde Pilcher's collection published last year (posthumously) called A Place Like Home. Though I usually prefer long juicy novels, these short stories were great too!