By Ceri Radford
Viking, $25.95, 273 pages
A modern epistolary novel in the form of a blog, A Surrey State of Affairs chronicles the life of Constance Harding, wife, mother, bell-ringer. She is, for the most part, content. Of course she’d like it if her slovenly housekeeper’s underwear didn’t show up constantly in her husband’s study; if her matchmaking for her daughter, son, and recently abandoned fellow bell-ringer didn’t backfire; and if her husband didn’t try to recapture his youth with loud music and obnoxious friends. But everything is fine—until Constance realizes that nothing is fine. She deals with one scandal after another, shocked by how little she’s realized about her family and her own life. Midlife crisis doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Ceri Radford has created a well-intentioned heroine who is sometimes painfully oblivious to what’s going on around her. Constance’s blog is endearing, ridiculous, amusing, and heartfelt. She’s writing to an anonymous audience, and her entries show a freedom that couldn’t be found elsewhere as she takes her journey to awareness. Radford writes the absurd with realism and somehow manages, through every trial and tribulation, to keep A Surrey State of Affairs effervescent and charming.
Reviewed by Leah Sims