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Lamb in Love

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lamb in Love recounts Norris Lamb’s passion for Vida Stephen, a passion which strikes him suddenly at fifty-five, unsettling his quiet world as postmaster of an English village, collector of stamps, church organist, and secret romantic. Vida is an unlikely love object; she has spent her adult life as nanny to Manford Perry, the retarded son of an American architect whose wife died in childbirth. Manford is the focus of Vida’s life, and she is quite unaware of Norris’s feelings. Nor does he have much idea of how to start this midlife courtship. He begins by sending her anonymous love letters with foreign postings, imagining that only the most romantic approach will be adequate to express his feelings.

Vida is unsettled by these letters. Her life, like the life of the village in general, has seen little change, and she is uncertain whether the letters are serious or mocking or perhaps even threatening. Still, the time seems right for new directions: Vida has recently found Manford a job in the village bakery; her employer has even hired a new gardener to repair Southend House’s long-neglected gardens.

What comes of Norris Lamb’s tentative, and sometimes clumsy, courtship makes a novel which asserts the power of love to transform even the most mundane of people and their lives. Carrie Brown tells her story with obvious affection for all her characters, and her delicately honed prose brings the would-be lovers to life with the clarity of June sunlight in an English village.