If you loved Christine Richard’s debut novel entitled simply Whitewalls, you’ll enjoy more of the same. Autumn atÂ Whitewalls has been seven years in the making but that’s not how long has passed since the first novel.
As we are reunited with four generations of the Douglas family, the book begins at the top, so to speak, with the wedding of octogenarian Betty to her long time friend Colonel John Prendergast. We left her in the first book being threatened by her ex husband who wishes to claim the family home, Whitewalls, for himself and his new French wife Madeleine. (Alistair continues his attempts through this book but is, of course, unsuccessful.) The wedding is interrupted by Betty’s granddaughter in law Virginia going into labour with a late baby.
Rosie, the current matriarch, learns nothing from her flighty daughter’s affair, which has threatened her marriage and the happiness of her perfectly decent husband and nine year old twins. She embarks on an affair of her own with, of all people, the new minister, who really should know better, while still claiming to love her long time artist husband Jamie.
As Rosie’s daughter Polly continues her on-off relationship with David, Polly’s daughter Minty is complaining that her broken leg still hurts and is taken to see a doctor who refers her to the surgeon who set her leg.Â Meanwhile, Rosie’s newly engaged son Charles is preparing to go on a final tour of Afghanistan. His fiancÃ©e Maggie is an actressÂ who is filming at Virginia and Hugh’s stately home in the Cotswolds.
It’s the men who provide the interest in this book although I was frustrated by not finding out if Minty is going to be all right. Long NHS waiting lists are one thing. Hoping to save his marriage, Polly’s husband Richard embraces The Lodge at Whitewalls for their weekend home where he can develop his interest in horse racing and training into a potentially good business venture. After the shortest ever tour of duty, Charles returns safely, leaves the army and looks set to take up the reins of his fiancÃ©e’s grandparents’ farm in Yorkshire.