The misleading title of Tom Fort’s new book gives the impression that it’s yet another exposé of village life by an incomer who has found it – surprise, surprise – less than idyllic. But in reality The Village News is no such thing. In writing it, Fort has, in his own words, ‘studied village life past and present as closely as my mental powers permit. I have read extensively about the past, and have spent much time exploring individual villages and talking to village people about the present.’ And the result is a wide-ranging, intelligent and bracingly enjoyable book that deserves a better title.
Fort grew up in Twyford, a village in Berkshire, and now lives in another one, Sonning Common in Oxfordshire, which he describes as ‘deeply unremarkable’. Fittingly, his book begins in the first, with Fort describing how Twyford has changed since his boyhood – changed in the same ways