Today’s post marks the start of a new series of book reviews I’ll be doing over the coming weeks. The Bells Of Burracombe and A Stranger In Burrcacombe are the first two. These are out of fourteen books in a series written by Lilian Harry. Grab a cuppa and lets get started.
I have been a fan of Lilian’s books for many years. She is one of those authors that captures the happiness and the sadness of everyday life. Many of the books she has written have been set during the second world war. The Burracombe series is different to that because it is set in a post-war Britain.
I first started collecting the Burracombe books as a teenager. I wanted to have the whole set before I began reading them. It would mean than I could just follow on from book to book, enjoying the stories as I went. Lilian kept me on my toes with this because she kept on writing. The first book was published in 2006 and the last was published in 2017. As I result of this, it has taken me until now to start reading them.
The first book in the series is The Bells Of Burracombe, so here is the blurb.
The Bells Of Burracombe
When Stella Simmons arrives in the Devonshire village of Burracombe to start her teaching career, she is alone in the world. Orphaned as a child during the war, she was separated from her sister and brought up in a children’s home.
Stella is soon caught up in village life, especially the plans for celebrating the Festival of Britain, which keep the headmistress and vicar busy trying to preserve the peace between villagers who all have their own ideas about what should be done. But Stella still finds time to try to trace her sister, with the help of artist Luke Ferris.
Luke is happy to help Stella – not least because it provides a distraction from his own problems, involving a long-past relationship which has come back to haunt him…
Firstly, I wanted to say that I first started reading this book back in June last year. It has taken me that long to get through all of the books. I did write lots of notes along the way, to help me write these reviews.
Lockdown was the perfect excuse to start reading the Burracombe series. What I really liked about this book was how Lilian introduces you to both the characters and the village itself. At the start of the book, there is a map showing you the village. You can really get a feel of the place and imagine yourself there. I found myself captivated by a secret that Stella held close to her. As the book evolved, the secret slowly unfolds, playing its role through, right up until the last page. It really makes this book a page turner, because you just want to know what happens next.
The Festival of Britain plays a huge part in the story. Starting from the idea, to the planning of actual related events, the build up is huge. There is however, not much said about the Festival itself and is just given a few small pages. Personally, I think this is a great way of doing it,. Sometimes the anticipation of a coming event, out ways the enjoyment. A lot more drama can unfold during the build up and it really shows the characters personalities through this. The end of the book had me wanting to know what happens next and so I started straight away.
A Stranger In Burracombe
He hoped that he was not about to uncover a family tragedy, or some old secret best left untold…
In the midst of a nation shocked by the sudden death of the King, the arrival of a stranger in the Devonshire village of Burracombe is hardly noticed. After all, the villagers have their own concerns: Val needs to find a home before she can marry her sweetheart; Hilary is struggling to come to terms with her new responsibilities; and Stella is still getting to know the sister she thought she had lost in the war.
Then Jennifer arrives, searching for a family she hadn’t even realised existed. And, as the village becomes involved in her search, more than one person questions their own ideas about families, and what they mean.
A Stranger In Buracombe is the second book in the series. It had been a long time since I’d read a series by Lilian Harry. I’d caught up on all her other books, leaving just the Burracombe series to read. I was intrigued to see how the story would follow on in this book.
The story starts off with the arrival of Jennifer. Little clues start being dropped throughout the first part of the story. It allows the reader to feel a part of her journey of discovery. By piecing the clues together, you get a rough idea of who Jennifer’s father is. Whilst this is going on, village life also continues. You can see how the stories weave in and out of every household in such a clever yet simple way.
The underlying theme for me though was just how different the older generation in this story were brought up. The books are set in the 1950s. Therefore, the older generation mentioned would have been born around the 1900s. It really gives you a glimpse of what their early years were like. You can just how different each generation is brought up.
The outcome of this story left me thinking that love always pulls you through. Also that sometimes your blood relatives can be the cruellest of all. Its something that I’ve experienced in my life and so I felt like I had a strong connection with the characters.
That brings me to the end of the first two-part book review series. As I’ve mentioned above, I will continue reviewing the Burracombe book series over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for those.