I was pleased to manage to find a book on my TBR for the inaugural iteration of Dewithon, or the Wales readathon (hosted by BookJotter here) as I’d promised myself I’d try to do it and Reading Ireland but only if I could do it from the horrendous ranks of the TBR (there should, ahem, be a Reading Cornwall Month, as I appear to have a) bought books that are 2nd or 3rd in a series and then b) filled in the gaps so I have the whole run, twice).

So here we go with a nice and gentle but really well done read with some great positive messages, very firmly and fondly set in West Wales.

Laura Kemp – “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness”

(07 August 2018: The Works)

There does appear to be a mini-genre of books about saving small towns or individual buildings (see “The Library at the Edge of the World” and I’m sure I’ve read at least one more). But what’s not to like about a small community pulling together in diverse ways?

Ceri escapes to the West Wales seaside, to the tiny town her dying mother talked about, just to get away for a week from her younger half-sister’s prosaic way of disposing of their mum’s property and the demands of a high-level job and slightly empty life. A series of misunderstandings (done nicely, not mocking the different ways of the inhabitants of the seaside town) mean she ends up staying around, slotting into the community and, with no WiFi to speak of, even forgetting her job as a YouTuber and CEO of a makeup company.

We also meet lovely, scatty Mel, who has the ability to see extra colours but can’t bear to throw anything away, and Rhodri the over-serious council recycling officer who has horrible brothers and a property developer father. When a piece of land that gives the town its nickname of “The Village of Love” looks ripe for development, the community moves together to shore up their lives and businesses, and then a random stranger starts sending the town gifts …

Well written with plenty of meaty plot and character development. Mel in particular is getting through some difficult life stuff but I liked how she was strong and supportive in the community as well as needing help and being a bit stuck. The Welsh way of speaking is woven through the book; I love how Ceri is disabused of the “fact” that popty-ping is Welsh for microwave, and it’s bang up to date as well, with book swap shelves and a repair cafe. A lovely read.

I’ve had to eschew the demands of Iris Murdoch for Paul Gallico’s “Mrs Harris Goes to New York” but I’ll be back with “A Word Child” soon.