Simon Baker

Village Voices

The Western Wind

By

Jonathan Cape 294pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The Western Wind is set in 1491, in the kind of peripheral, unspectacular place in which, we book lovers know, the best stories are often found. Oakham (not the one in Rutland, it seems) is a slumbering English village cut off from neighbouring areas by a wide river. A couple of wealthy people live there, as do a lot of unambitious folk who have never left home and have no wish to do so. At the centre of village life is John Reve, a benign, reserved priest who hears confession and therefore knows the gossip, scandals and quiet grudges of Oakham better than anyone else.

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