Prudencia Prim feels she was born in the wrong century. Although a self-proclaimed atheist-feminist, she longs for the time before cell phones and computers, when people were not so “connected”, a time when people read and discussed life over a civilized cup of tea. Thus, she decides to answer an advertisement for a personal librarian in spite of the fact that she is highly over-qualified for the position. The small village of San Ireneo de Arnois seems to be the perfect place for a young woman interested in escaping the noise of city life and of her own mind.
Her would-be employer also appears over-qualified for his job as an elementary school teacher. Perhaps this is why she finds him in the middle of a lesson about Virgil’s Aeneid – in Latin – actually expecting the children to understand. Despite his disconcerting idiosyncrasies, he appears to be a true gentleman, and so Miss Prim begins her tenure organizing the library of the “Man in the Wing Chair”. She quickly learns that he is one of the educators San Ireneo employs in its non-conventional education system and highly counter-cultural environment. Nearly everyone in the village is a transplant like Miss Prim, each employed in occupations far different from their original professions but which provide San Ireneo with a needed service.
As Miss Prim becomes better acquainted with both the village and its residents, she learns to appreciate the peculiarity of her neighbors and their seemingly old-fashioned ideas about relationships. Firmly opposed to the concept of marriage, Miss Prim finds herself in unexpected conversations on the topic that prod her conscience. Perhaps the most disconcerting talks are those she has with the “Man in the Wing Chair” whom she is determined to dislike. He is rude and arrogant, and Miss Prim cannot – or does not want to – understand why his opinion matters so much to her.
Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera’s first novel, reminiscent of a Jane Austen story, will delight young romantics of any age. Amid lovely descriptions of afternoon tea, the author skillfully presents compelling reasons for lifelong commitments based on common beliefs and mutual respect. Miss Prim’s intellectual journey brings her unanticipated heartache, spiritual growth and eventually inner peace and joy. Young women will find this a refreshing story that inspires them to seek the truth about love.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is a full-time wife and mother currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.