We’re delighted to be on tour sharing Laura’s thoughts for The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes.
Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, the novel is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.
The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes is published by Urbane Publications and is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
The Huntingfield Paintress is based on a true story, as the author felt captivated on visiting St Mary’s church in Suffolk. She found a beautiful ceiling and discovered that a vicar’s wife painted it in the 1850’s.
Even though based on fiction it is clear Mildred Holland was quite a character. While waiting 8 years for her husband’s position in the church they travelled Europe. On their arrival to Huntingfield in 1848, Mildred felt trapped in a small village, among idle gossips and missed her adventures while travelling.
The author captures village life splendidly, I found it to be a wonderful example of historical fiction. I enjoyed Mildred’s voice, bored of her ordinary life but clearly determined to make her own way. Meeting Edward an expert in architecture convinced Mildred of restoration of the church. She spent years painting a 15th Century style ceiling with angels and religious scenes.
An interesting read.
Pamela Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to England. She studied nursing at London University as a mature student having spent three years living on a commune in Somerset where she developed a love of gardening, milking cows and laying hedges. She became a health journalist and on-screen reporter. She now works and volunteers to improve the lives of older people including those with dementia, and she sings in a rock band. The Huntingfield Paintress is her first novel. She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014 and her latest work was awarded Highly Recommended in the HISSAC competition 2015. Pamela is the mother of two boys and lives in London with her husband.
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