Today’s book recommendation is so very British, I think it’s impossible to read it without a cup of tea. So go make a cuppa of your favorite tea, light a couple candles, and curl up on the couch with this book. It’s also one of the few books that have gripped me from the first page lately, so it deserves extra credit for that.
Fifteen years ago, teenage Laurie Henshaw came to live at Webber’s Farm with his elderly uncle and settled in to the farming life. Now, age thirty-two, he has a stroke in the middle of working on the farm. As he recovers, he has to come to terms with the fact that some of his new limitations are permanent and he’s never going to be as active as he used to be. Will he be able to accept the helping hands his friends extend to him?
With twenty successful years in the City behind him, Phil McManus is hiding in the country after his boyfriend set him up to take the fall for an insider trading deal at his London stockbroking firm. There’s not enough evidence to prosecute anyone, but not enough to clear him either. He can’t bear the idea of continuing his old stagnating life in the city, or going back to his job now everyone knows he’s gay.
Thrown together in a small country village, can Phil and Laurie forge a new life that suits the two of them and the makeshift family that gathers round them? Or are they too tied up in their own shortcomings to recognise what they have?
Taking Stock is a lovely, lovely book. It’s slow and gentle and quiet, and everything that I love in a story. It has found families and hurt/comfort, two of my favorite tropes. But most of all, it’s full of the kind of romance I love the most. There are no grand gestures or the cliched over-the-top things associated with romance. No, it’s a quiet kind of love. It’s two men sitting at a kitchen table, one massaging the other’s hand and arm, and they talk. It’s one man being there for the other when he’s needed, whether the other man wants to admit he needs help or not.
Very carefully, very gently, he put his hands on the curved knobs of Laurie’s shoulder, warm under his shirt. Laurie could shake him off easily if he so desired. Phil didn’t say anything. He just offered silent support.
Laurie was thin under the soft cotton. They stood for a while, doing nothing but breathing and looking out the window. Gradually Laurie relaxed and as he did, he swayed back, just a little, until some of his weight was resting on Phil. It felt nice, to take the weight for someone else.
Eventually, Laurie dashed his good hand over his face. Wiping his eyes, Phil thought. “Tea’s getting cold,” Laurie said.Quote from Taking Stock by A.L. Lester
Taking Stock is about ordinary people overcoming extra-ordinary circumstances. Dealing with whatever shit life throws at them the best way they can. It’s full of warmth and friendships and support, and most of all, it’s a quiet, wonderful romance.
This is a definite re-read for me. This is five glorious stars and a heart full of love for Laurie and Phil. Buy this book, read it today. You won’t regret it.