Just before setting out on our fnal visit this year to France,I was pleased to find a copy of Mavis Cheek's most recent novel, Amenable Women. It's mainly about two very different women, Flora, recently widowed and an important historical character - Anne of Cleves. So the story is a clever combination of an historical novel and a modern day novel. The link between the two stories is a history of Hurcott Ducis, the village in which Flora lives. Her husband had been writing the history when he died, and Flora decides to continue and finish it. Her researches lead her to a viewing of Hans Holbein's portrait of Anne, and overhearing a guide's remarks about the lady, becomes somewhat irritated, resolving to find out a lot more detail about Henry VIII's fourth wife. This Flora duly does, which leads her into a variety of situations with her solicitor, her grieving daughter Hilary, Pauline the village siren and others. I've always enjoyed Mavis Cheek's writing, as her sense of humour and of observation are nicely sharp.