In this, the first part of the second Village Tales novel, changes come to the Woolfonts, floods vex the District, a retirement at the Free School is announced, there's dirty work on council, the Rector is under strain, and a family tragedy befalls the duke. The villagers must rally 'round: and of course do, with blood, toil, tears, and sweat. More
The Woolfonts are the most peaceful and placid – some say, the most chocolate-box – villages in the West Country, if not in the whole of the UK. Or … they're meant to be. Of course, that doesn't take account of the eccentricities of the villagers, from the humblest to the highest; or of all the ungentlemanly balls life can bowl.
The year began in flood and spate. Teddy Gates, the Celebrated Hipsta Chef and proprietor of The Woolford House Hotel, newly the local councillor, fell prey to a cross-party stitch-up at his colleagues' hands, over social housing; now the duke, ably assisted by the indispensable Mr Viney, is cunningly working to get him out of his jam. By nobbling the MoD and the Defence Estates. There are plans to resurrect the old Cottage Hospital. Snook, the world's most useless sexton, waxes odder by the day. The High Church Rector, Fr Paddick –, and Mr Mirza, the English master at the Free School – are becoming stressed by the well-meaning support of friends, family, and neighbours who don't grasp the concepts of chastity, celibacy, and obedience. The Breener, now married to the Hon. Gwen, is in for a delightful shock. Edmond Huskisson is letting his activism get the better of him. The future prospects of Canon Judith Potecary, in Beechbourne, have the Dean, the Archdeacon, and the Bishop on wires. Sher Mirza's uncle (and Charles duke of Taunton's old right-hander and fellow OE), the Nawab, is facing a succession crisis.
Then tragedy strikes the duke's family, with knock-on effects on the duke's own health, even as Fr Noel Paddick's constitution buckles under various strains. It shall indeed want a village – well: three of them, and the adjoining parishes, and the market towns, and the little hamlet of Woolfont Parva, and the whole of the Deanery – to Keep Buggering On and win through, and resolve every crisis at the last. Not least by putting some very special old soldiers in the new build of social housing: with a right Royal assist.
The old beloved characters and scenes return in this second instalment of GMW Wemyss' Village Tales; a few old faces depart and new, arrive; and at the end, the Woolfonts once more can say, This was their finest hour.