Tuesday, July 24, 2012


“What’s sick,” snapped Lilian, in a voice that was far from neutral and no longer scholarly, “is the willingness of one human being to brutally torment another in the name of God or country or anything else.”


This weekend I met Aunt Dimity for the first time. It was a good meeting.

Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch is a silly, socially conscious, totally enjoyable story.

As Lori Shepherd watched Amelia Thistle move into to Pussywillow Cottage, Lori had no way of knowing what a good friend Amelia would become.

Amelia is a well-known artist using her maiden name. She is hiding from a cult-like following. Those unwelcome followers see mystical meaning in her botanical paintings.

This is not a murder mystery. Amelia tries to find the truth about a mid-17th century village witch in the Cotswold village of Finch. The parson at that time hid clues about the woman around the tiny, now well-preserved, village.

American-born Lori (who lives with her family in Finch) helps Amelia. Aunt Dimity, a deceased friend of Lori’s mother, consults. She writes intricate calligraphy in a blank journal. Lori visits with Aunt Dimity each evening, and after the visit, the writing disappears. 

As Lori and Dimity communicate, Lori's favorite childhood toy, a stuffed bunny with black button eyes, looks on.

In the course of the story, Lori finds that Finch, both historically and today, is more accepting than she believed. Lori’s father-in-law, a prim and proper man, finds love. And Amelia finds a home.

In other words, this is a gentle English-style cozy. It was the perfect book for me to read this weekend. It brought some hope and sanity to the otherwise insane events I’d seen on TV.

If I were to ever meet Nancy Atherton, I’d tell her, “There was once a bad weekend that your writing helped make a little better.”

You can’t give an author much higher praise than that.

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