The parishioners of a small West Country market town are uncertain what to make of their new Anglican vicar with his candlelit processions. And, though Michael Hoath embraces challenge, his enthusiasm is sapped by their dogged traditionalism. Moreover, Valentine's imperial temperament is more suited to the amateur dramatics she excels at than the role of vicar's wife. Their separate claims to insecurity are, for the most part, concealed and so both are surprised when Michael falls in love with a member of his congregation: a married woman, neither young r beautiful. In tracing the effects of this unlikely attraction, Mary Hocking offers humour, sympathy and an overwhelming sense of the poignancy of human expectations.
Born in in London in 1921, Mary was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Girls School, Acton. During the Second World War she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) attached to the Fleet Air Arm Meteorology branch and then briefly with the Signal Section in Plymouth. Writing was in her blood. Juggling her work as a local government officer in Middlesex Education Department with writing, at first short stories for magazines and pieces for The Times Educational Supplement, she then had her first book, The Winter City, published in 1961. The book was a success and enabled Mary to relinquish her full time occupation to devote her time to writing. Even so, when she came to her beloved Lewes in 1961, she still took a part-time appointment, as a secretary, with the East Sussex Educational Psychology department. Long before family sagas had become cult viewing, she had embarked upon the 'Fairley Family' trilogy - Good Daughters, Indifferent Heroes, and Welcome Strangers - books which give her readers a faithful, realistic and uncompromising portrayal of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times, between the years of 1933 and 1946. For many years she was an active member of the 'Monday Lit', a Lewes-based group which brought in current writers and poets to speak about their work. Equally, she was an enthusiastic supporter of Lewes Little Theatre, where she found her role as 'prompter' the most satisfying, and worshipped at the town's St Pancras RC Church.