Armed with sarcasm, flippancy and a few belongings, Hilary Charles, ex-music teacher and theatre maestro, arrives as the newest resident at the Cedar Village retirement home in Yorkshire where he hopes to forget his life. Stanley Metcalf is the shy, young, resident D.J. who seems content to spend his life hiding away in his broadcast booth. As Hilary is welcomed by Stanley and an odd assortment of fellow residents, he finds, to his dismay, that his past is revealed, including his unrequited love for Norma Jean Baker, a tragic theatre starlet of the north. After further personal revelations, this group of misfit pensioners embarks on the reassessment of their pasts together, hoping to find understanding, meaning and happiness at the end of their lives.
Five Star Review on Amazon by Jason Connolly
Cedar Village is the story of a retirement home and the people who live in it, nearing the end of their lives but not at peace. The novel’s main character, Hilary Charles, is a thoroughly entertaining hero, charming, witty and wise but weighed down by the sorrow of his past. As the story reveals itself, we learn of his love and loss and begin to see how his tale intertwines with the stories of the other residents at the retirement home.
This is Stephen J Hird’s first novel but you would never suspect it, so assured is his writing. Hird has a distinctive voice, in the same way as do Dickens or John Irving, and his narration of the novel feels like a pleasant conversation with an old beloved friend.
The tone of the novel is rather melancholy at times but is lightened by the ever witty dialogue and amusing asides. While Cedar Village is a story of loss and sorrow, it is ultimately also one of redemption and hope.
You will likely read the final pages with a large smile on your face.