I read ‘The Seventh Miss Hatfield’ on holiday in Southern France, lounging under a fig tree on a mountainside keeping an eye on my younger siblings in the pool. It is a beautiful book to look at with an intriguing cover. And whatever people say about judging books by covers, of course one judges a book by its cover. How else would a book ever catch ones attention unless it was a recommendation?
Anyway, ‘The Seventh Miss Hatfield’ has a beautiful cover, so I had picked it up while visiting a bookshop with my father and started reading the first chapter, which sounded intriguing. And so it came into my possession.
The basic premise of ‘The Seventh Miss Hatfield’ is that ‘Miss Hatfield’ is an immortal woman, a condition that she passes on to another young woman. They are able to time travel. Anything more I say would be giving too much away. To be honest I thought there would be more of a focus on the mystical ‘Miss Hatfield’ aspect of the book and more time travelling than there really was. Despite that I loved the book. Its a romance more than anything. Made me think of ‘The Time Travellers Wife’ which I adored.
So I must confess that my favourite character is the love interest, Henley. Henley is actually a beautifully boys name, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as a name before. It makes me think of Henley-on-Thames, which is a beautiful town in Oxfordshire along the River Thames, which I have always loved. Its a town that has always had a central point in my life as a place of picnics, walks, baseball games, the Henley Royal Regatta and idyllic Britishness. I used to work in a museum there, which I adored. Anyway, that is most definitely a sidetone. Henley not only has a lovely name, he is also a lovely person.
You know, as a female reader, naturally I have an adoration for the romanticised male characters of many of the novels I have read. However I am also terribly aware, somewhat self-mockingly, that many of the men I like on paper I would detest in real life. Mr Darcy is a case in point, How can one not adore Mr Darcy? And yet, when I think about it, I know if I met Mr Darcy in real life, I would not fall in love with him. Henley, Henley is a different story. I think I could love him in real life. He’s pleasant, he loves ice cream, he’s not afraid of taking a leap, he has an easy smile.
The plot itself is also interesting, though slow in places. I think my main concern is that the main character herself is so underdeveloped, partly through virtue of becoming Miss Hatfield and almost inheriting a history that isn’t really hers, but than again is but is not yet engrained in her. It feels like she just comes into being and isn’t yet quite comfortable with it. Maybe thats why I like Henley. Henley is developed and sweet and fragile.
It has a bittersweet ending. If I said anything more it would be a major spoiler. Let it be enough that I say it had ended somewhat differently. However it is a lovely sweet book and fantastic for a good read on holiday.