Hilarity and tenderness abound in this novel narrated in pages torn from the diary of one Venetia Summers, a thirty-something divorced mother of three who resides in rural England and is owner of, among other things, controlling shares in her ex-husband’s pet mortuary and numerous pairs of oddly colored Wellingtons.
While Venetia’s life may not be as glamorous as the one she left behind in the city ten years ago, it certainly isn’t dull. She has two exuberant young boys and one splendid baby girl–known simply as The Beauty–to feed and outfit and keep happy. Other responsibilities include upkeep of a lovely but ramshackle old house, complete with a garden growing with wild abandon, and the care of a variety of bloomered bantam hens. Then there’s her mother, sometimes helpful and supportive but more often busy tossing back vodka and smoking cigarettes; a rather cute but presumptuous bathroom contractor and his oversexed Labrador; and various other friends, relations and country characters who dart in and out of Venetia’s life, wreaking havoc along the way.
Fortunately for her, Venetia is the sort who can find beauty in the surrounding mayhem, and fortunately for us, she records it all with wry wit and great verve, sharing the joys and sometimes dubious pleasures of raising a family in the English countryside.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Hens Dancing|
|Release Date: 08-13-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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February 14 Seven Valentine cards have been delivered to the house this morning by the postman, and not one of them is for me. Three are for Giles, who is eight and therefore at an age where the bolstering effect of a Valentine card goes unnoticed; two are for Felix, six, who is in a big rage that anyone has dared to be so sissy as to send him any; and two are for Charles, forty-one, who had not planned to be at home, but an airport strike prevented his business trip to Paris.
"How did they know I'd be here?" he murmurs, a smirk of smug spreading over his face. He drops the one his secretary always sends him without opening it and looks at the other. It is not from me.
"The postmark is smudged. Can you read it, darling?" he says to me, and, hating to miss an opportunity for one-upmanship, adds, "Did you really not get any cards? How odd."
Scrutinizing his envelope, I drop it in the washing-up water.
"Oops, sorry, Charles, it's a bit soggy now."
He looks at me with loathing. I smile sweetly.
Breakfast is an orgy of martyrdom on my part, as usual unnoticed by spouse and offspring, who according to age and inclination are reading their Valentine cards/the Beano comic/the cereal packet. I clear away, deliberately not asking for help, and return to bed. The telephone clicks a couple of times, and I know better than to pick it up. Charles has a sixth sense for an overheard conversation and will insist he's simply checking in with the office. I think he's having an affair, and am shocked to find that I don't care. Even being five months pregnant doesn't make me care; in fact it cushions me from any feeling toward Charles stronger th...