Reviewed by Sophie Duffy
Published by Arrow in May 2012.
Pages - 400
It isn’t every day that I get to ride in a Rolls Royce, bowling along the Devon country lanes in the bright April sunshine with my dad at my side, singing ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’ in his rich baritone voice. His enthusiasm is infectious and I’m not sure which of us is most excited, me or him.
From the bestselling author of Trust Me, I'm a Vet, this is Cathy Woodman's fifth novel about love, animals and the countryside.
Swept up in a whirlwind romance, Tessa is about to marry, but on the day of her wedding when one of her oldest friends, Jack, interrupts the ceremony, she changes her mind. Her doubts about her groom are confirmed later when she discovers the extent of his debts and that he has been sleeping with her close girlfriend.
Tessa is a vet nurse with no job and no home, and it appears that she will have to live with her parents for the rest of her life, until her aunt, Fifi Green, offers her a position managing Talyton Animal Rescue's Sanctuary. The committee of Talyton Animal Rescue fall out with Fifi who did not consult them, the charity's assets are frozen, there is a shortage of volunteers and too many animals turning up at the door.
How will Tessa cope with these challenges? How will she deal with her changing feelings for Jack, who as well as ruining her big day, is the local animal welfare officer?
I met Cathy Woodman at a Harry Bowling Prize evening in London in 2008. She was a previous winner from 2002 and was very encouraging of the prize which launched her new career as a novelist. She grew up in Devon, like me, and her vet series, of which The Village Vet is the latest, is set in the fictional market town of Talyton St George in East Devon.
The Village Vet can be read alone as the characters, although previously introduced in earlier novels, now take centre stage. Tessa, the heroine, a vet nurse, is a down-to-earth young woman who falls helplessly, and too easily, in love with the men who come into her life and with the rescued animals that are brought to The Sanctuary.
Woodman draws you immediately into the village setting which she describes with zest, affection and a lightness of touch. Her witty, accessible style makes
the book a fast read as you sail along with it, gunning for Tessa as she goes on her journey of love with hero, Jack, whose job as animal welfare officer means their daily lives continually collide.
It is a very romantic, heart-warming, will-they-won’t-they tale. With lots of endearing rescued animals. Woodman’s career as a vet shows in her writing which has an authentic feel to it when she describes these ponies, dogs and deer.
She’s been compared to a mixture of Katie Fforde and James Herriot which seems accurate to me. Essentially this book is a rural romance and would make a great television series... As would the whole of her Talyton St George series. Now who would play Tessa and Jack?