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by Nancy Atherton
Viking, April 2012
240 pages
ISBN: 0670023418

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

No one ever suggested that the inhabitants of Finch, a village in the Cotswolds, England, were nosey. Not at all, they're merely trying to make sure that the village remains safe and if that means keeping a careful eye on each new neighbor as they move in then so be it.

That's why on a cold, rainy day in October everyone was out of their warm, dry homes waiting for the new owner of Pussywillow Cottage, Amelia Thistle, to finally make an appearance. After all, they need to check out her furniture when the moving men unload the moving trucks.

American born Lori Shepherd, who moved to Finch with her husband and twin sons, is sitting in the local tea room waiting for Mrs. Thistle to arrive along with her neighbors. When the people in the tea room see Amelia, room mates and art dealers, Charles Bellingham and Grant Tavistock tell Lori that Mrs. Thistle is really Mae Bowen, a very popular and talented floral artist. Usually she keeps to herself and Charles and Grant are surprised that she'll be living in Finch.

Within one day Lori and Amelia become friends and Lori learns about the mission that Amelia will be taking over for her recently deceased brother. Amelia is looking for information on a seventeenth-century witch who lived in or near Finch. Before too long the whole village is helping to find out information about the witch, Mad Meg. They're also helping Amanda hide from the fanatic group that is making her life miserable.

AUNT DIMITY & THE VILLAGE WITCH is author Nancy Atherton's 17th novel in the Aunt Dimity series. Fans already know that Aunt Dimity is a friend of the lead character, Lori Shepherd. It might also be wise to mention that Aunt Dimity has been dead quite a while and communicates with Lori through a book that Dimity writes in.

This is not the type of novel that will win a literature award although the first in the series, AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH, was voted one of the "100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century" by the Independent Booksellers Association. This is a simple book with a simple plot that will keep fans reading. There's no murder here, no violence, no gore and blood, just a story about friendship.

Readers search along with Lori, Amelia, and all the other residents of Finch as they look for missing pages of a family diary that concerns a woman who lived alone in the woods near Finch some 300 years earlier. By traveling with the group during October's cold and wet English weather, fans get to know more about the residents and how much they truly care for each other. The book ends nicely with all questions answered and with the possibility of new love between Lori's father- in-law and Amelia.

Okay, maybe AUNT DIMITY & THE VILLAGE WITCH is a wee bit syrupy sweet at times, and maybe Lori's relationship with her husband, sons, and father-in-law seem a bit too perfect, and maybe the tale does get a tad preachy, but honestly, who cares? The book is a fun read with nothing scary popping out from behind a secret door that will leave you sleeping with the lights on for a week.

This is the perfect series to read during the summer and even the winter. Pick up any of the books at any time because each can stand on its own and readers will not be lost if they start with the eighth book instead of the first.

Take a trip to Finch in the Cotswolds, relax and get to know Lori and all the residents. You'll have a great time. Just remember to bring your umbrella.

Sharon Katz has been reviewing books for RTE for many years. She lives in Brooklyn.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, May 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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