Back in the summer, my mother-in-law gave me a pile of books to take home with me, as is her habit when I come visiting. This one, "Up with the Larks" by Tessa Hainsworth, is the first of a series of three books about a woman who starts over as a postwoman in Cornwall.
Tessa (the author) works for The Body Shop. Her London-based life is extremely busy and rather high profile. Her husband and two children matter a lot to her, but there never seem to be enough hours to a day and days to a week to see as much of them as she wants to.
After a particularly relaxing holiday in Cornwall (not their first one there), the family decide to up sticks and move there permanently, to finally live the life they dream of, with plenty of time and space for every family member, and without the day-to-day stress and pressures of life in the big city.
As tends to happen with the best plans, this one doesn't exactly work out the way they imagine: The house needs a lot of work, and much more money than anticipated. Work is scarce in this beautiful region, and soon Tessa's husband finds himself doing two or three part-time jobs just to be able to pay the bills.
Tessa's search for a suitable job is not successful. Eventually, as a last resort, she applies for the job of postwoman - and nobody is more surprised than herself when she actually gets it.
She starts at the hardest imaginable time: November, the weeks leading up to Christmas. But maybe that sink or swim approach is the secret: After some initial (and rather funny - for the reader, at least) difficulties, she really takes to the job, and the book ends with happiness all around.
I liked this true story, told by the main protagonist herself. The language is fine; nothing over the top, but no vulgarities, either. The book is neatly divided into a chapter for each month of the family's first year in Cornwall.
We meet the family, their friends from London who come visiting, their new neighbours and colleagues and Tessa's customers on her post rounds. People, places, the weather and Tessa's moods are described well without being verbose.
What Tessa and those she writes about experience ranges from the funny to the serious, from silly to dramatic - just how real life is.
My next two reads will be books I borrowed from my sister, but I am looking forward to returning to more of Tessa's adventures.