©1998 Phil Rickman; (P)Isis Publishing Ltd
"Woven through is the wonderful web of mysticism and the supernatural which we have come to expect....The clever combination of modern idiom and the timeless echo of history leaps from every page." (Daily Express)
"A first-rate thriller with supernatural overtones...deftly illuminates the intrigues of village life. Quirky characters, an abundance of plot twists." (Publishers Weekly)
About a third of a way into this novel I was seriously considering trying something else instead. I didn't know where the plot was going and there were several unpleasant characters with long stretches of dialogue. Gradually, however, it began to grip me and at the end I lay awake way too late into the night to finish listening to it, then woke up the next morning to order the next in the series (which is Midwinter of the Spirit). So, it's a fairly slow start but bear with it because all the plot elements gradually twist together and there are various gripping mysteries that reach a satisfying conclusion.
Rickman seduces you into his sleepy, pastoral village of Ledwardine with promises of home brewed cider and fairies at the bottom of the orchard. Only when it's too late for the reader/listener to catch the last bus home does he scratch away the surface to reveal the sordid underbelly of English country life doused in incest, blood-feuds, rape and murder.
This, the first of the Merrily Watkins procedurals is a ghost story wrapped inside a mystery and bound tightly together with the twine of dark folklore. It also delivers a plot twist that gives the sort of jolt you would normally only expect from a gibbet trapdoor.
As always Rickman's dialogue is a joy as he fleshes out the various suicidal dreamers, quirky eccentrics and sexual predators who inhabit his strange little village. As Nick Drake, the quintessential lost soul himself, who makes an eerie cameo role in the book says - The Pink Moon is gonna get you all!
An enjoyable listen incorporating village politcs and murder amongst the apple orchards. Paganism and and a touch of the supernatural spice up the mixture. Some good lead characters amongst the cardboard cutouts and music by Nick Drake. Phil Rickman seems to have thrown a lot of different plotlines into this story, it will be interesting to see where he goes with the rest of the series.
This was a fabulous novel: with characters so detailed that the listener is completely drawn in to the world of the Merrily, Jane, Gomer and the borderland. I really couldn't stop listening and was enthralled by the interwoven plots that layered so many mysteries that my mind worked overtime trying to fathom them out. What can I say. Excellent.
Living in rural tranquility in France. I read everything except readers' l o n g reviews of books.
Original - compelling - wellcrafted (not one word but . . . .)
Doh! A complete package, good story line, belevable and interesting characters, well written, interesting twists in an oversubscribed genre.
All, maintained my interest throughout.
10 hours, one sitting? Nothing is that good, i have a life. However it did hold my interest and always demanded, "five minutes more", or "just finish the chapter".
This is my first by this author and i note that it is part of a series. I really enjoyed this book and will probably listen to more. A little reluctant as i feel that much of the enjoyment was based on the "difference" and fear that this will be lost on further listening.
A very credittable 4 star read.
Yes. It was, as I like my books, intelligent and entertaining.
A thorougly enjoyable novel. Not great Art, but a really good listen, with a - to me - very believable balance between common-sense and faith, without falling too much into any category of unreasonable stereotyping. Yes. Certainly stereotyping happens (it always does), but nothing that grates on my nerves.
And a fewm good, plot-twists along the way :-)
I'm hoping that Audible will offer all the Merrily Watkins books unabridged, and not - as is the case now - have the series with a huge hole in the middle.
The plot was excellent, a real page turner, but the book needed a good editor, it just goes on and on. The mothers in this story I found rather strange too, they refer to their children as "the kid", abandon them at the drop of a hat, seem to write them off very easily. And the story just stops dead - leaving me asking "and what about x or y?"
I had watched the tv adaptation of midwinter of the spirit and enjoyed it.
this book answered a lot of questions raised in the adaptation. why was merily as she was and what had happened to her husband. was she a widow or was she divorced.
well written charcters and well performed by Rebecca lacey I am looking forward to listening to midwinter of the spirit.
Well, I have made it to the end of chapter 4 and really cannot go on any longer with this awful book.
The story of a female vicar-to-be who is starting at a new parish, initially – nothing much happened apart from an accident/suicide - it isn't clear which.
Then, The 15year old naïve daughter, commonly referred to as 'the kid' goes on a drinking binge with a girlfriend: the morning after, mother Merrily goes to have words with her and the following scene occurs:
Obviously Merrily's thoughts: 'Where was the damned hangover? Christ, she needed Jane to feel awful for the whole of Sunday, that was part of the lesson.'
A little while later mother goes off to the church and we then read:
'Jane stood at the window, watching bloody mum cross the bloody square heading towards the bloody church, where bloody else? The pious cow!'
It was at this point that I realised that I was NEVER going to get into the non story – wherever did all those 5 star reviews come from.
AIso, I am not a prude – but I do not expect a vicar to use 'Jesus' or 'Christ' as expletives – the whole thing was just a nothing story with offensive aside!
There wasn't a single character that I could even remotely like - and I just want to leave them to their own form of hell!
Discovered Phil Rickman thru an audible recommendation in 2009 and I never looked back. His novels are hard to categorize but are based on strong character development and for those fascinated with all things UK he interlaces mystery, crime, faith, music, single parent life, politics and history into fabulous tales. I am not religious nor brought up in the Christian faith so it took a long time before I said yes to this recommendation. mmmm, female Church of England clergy who becomes an exorcist in subsequent novels? Really? Really! Add - a bit of the supernatural as possibility.
Rebecca Lacey is the narrator of "wine of roses" - the first Merrily Watkins and Emma Powell takes over in the second book of this series. Both super narrators. All books are available in audio but not all are yet available on audible. Most are available as e-books. Read, read, read!!! (listen :).) Characters are a bit quirky to US readers but this is what makes them so appealing.
"A contemporary, edgy, uncozy-cozy mystery!"
Very good story, kept me very engaged, a little mom-teenager relationship, a little magical older woman stuff, some very dark characters, mysterious and just the right amount of suspense.
Interesting story from a century before woven through. The main character, who is a Church of England priest, is very contemporary and thoughtful and someone who I could relate too. I like her character.
I really liked the characters, the town, and the mystery. Good listen!
"Women of Spirit"
This is not meant to be a cozy read. In the first scene of the book the reader is introduced to characters and themes that inform the entire book-- the sacred place, the lore of the place and the struggle between newcomers and those with deep roots in the village of Ledwardwine, a village that was once renowned as the village in the apple orchard. The remains of this once extensive orchard is a plot outside the Churchyard, hence outside of consecrated ground where suicides, excommunicates and others who died outside of the church would be buried.
Remember that Rickman attaches weight to every symbol be it gesture, word or figure.
Actually I liked the narrator so any problems with understanding Emma Powell (who is not the listed narrator) might be a problem with audio equipment. Emma Powell is a British actor and voice over artist.
"A Long Way to go for a Good Ending"
Throughout the listening of this book, I frequently thought, "When will something happen?"
The author, I presume, wanted to represent real life, which is full of long dull conversations and uneventful days. But I was bored. The last 30 minutes of the story really grabbed me, but was it worth the first 15 1/2 hours? I'm not convinced it was.
I liked the main characters, and I would like to know what happens to them in the rest of the series. Maybe I can find "cliff notes."
I want to add that the narrator read this book in what was almost a monotone. Yikes.
"Really tried to like it"
I enjoy Mr Rickman's books, having quite a few of the paperbacks on my shelves. However I could not extend this to this particular audio book. I found the narrator did not have sufficient variation in her voice to differentiate the characters and found myself "rewinding" or having to listen very closely in an attempt to discern which character was supposedly saying what.
As mentioned, I have enjoyed reading a number of the books in the past, so I would be willing to try another book, if another narrator was employed with clearer distinctions between characters.
clear diction, but insufficient tonal variety to differentiate characters.
yes, worth the time.
I really did like this book! Very detailed & well written. Plan to listen to each one in the series. I am a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon & she recommended this series on her website.Rebecca Lacey did a great job with the narration. I hope Audible carries all of Rickman's books!!
"Secrets of an old English Village"
The fluctuations and tone of her voice. I loved her accent and the Scottish drawl on the Scottish words and the prounounciation of some
Picturing Miss Devenish's little store, Ledwardine Lore. Filled with all it's apple themed items and fairies. Imaging Miss Devenish in her poncho and hat with such strong opinions and beliefs.
Chapter 19, The Nighthouse was one favorite.
Apples - They're not as sweet or innocent as they seem.
Really enjoyed the book and audio. First real reading I've gotten back to and for my first book club that I have ever been part of. Good experience.
"Rickman's Merrily series is addictive."
It's a five
Outlander series, the characters are interesting
the marination of accents
I hope audible carries the entire series!
"A good listen"
I liked this. The story was woven together in such a way that my interest never wandered. If you like the British shows like Midsommer Murders, Inspector Morse or any of the Agatha Cristi offerings, then give this one a try. I also liked how the author doesn't play up the supernatural portions, but does intice us with their possibilities.
I hope you carry all of Mr Rickman's books
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