For years my summer reading always included a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher. Her character-rich stories always took me off to the English countryside to meet interesting people who would soon become my friends. Now that the author is no longer writing, I decided to go back and re-read one of my favorites.
Coming Home is big (977 pages), so I chose my re-read in the form of an abridged audiobook. Lucky for me, it was narrated beautifully by Lynn Redgrave. The abridged version didn’t bother me. I already know these people and the events of their lives. It felt as if I was visiting with Judith and we were reminiscing about the good old days.
When I first met Judith Dunbar she was about to leave home for boarding school. Her mother and sister were joining her father in Singapore. Judith would be alone if it weren’t for her Aunt X who will take her during school breaks. At school Judith was lonely and at odds until she made friends with fellow student Loveday Carey-Lewis. When Judith was invited home with Loveday, she was immediately welcomed into the entire extended family. Within this family Judith was introduced to the the aristocracy and wealth, as well as the values of family and loyalty.
Coming Home is a subtle look at the question of where is home. As we examine Judith’s life from the middle 1930s through the end of World War II, we see a variety of answers to that question. Loved ones are separated by war and death but still manage to define home whenever they are together.
I discovered a movie based on this book, thanks to my local library. The photography of the English countryside was so beautiful. The young actress who played thirteen-year-old Judith was Keira Knightly (Pride and Prejudice). She was stunning in the role. Happily, the movie did a good job of mirroring the book.
If you’ve never read a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, you really should try one. Don’t let the length put you off. The stories are worth digging into. You could do the abridged version as I did this time, but really, only if you already an experienced Pilcher reader.
Book published by St. Martin’s Press 1988
Movie produced by Yorkshiree TV in 1999