Cover image for Lamb in love
Lamb in love
Brown, Carrie, 1959-
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Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999.
Physical Description:
336 pages ; 22 cm
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Carrie Brown's triumphant first novel, Rose's Garden, garnered high praise from the critics for its "simple, beautiful language," and for "plumbing the emotional depths of ordinary human beings." Just a year later, she does it again.

Lamb in Love is set in a rural English village the year of the Apollo moon landing and tells of two people surprised, halfway through their lives by...what? passion? desire? love? They haven't the experience to quite identify it.

Norris and Vida have known each other forever. Neither has had any idea how to go about falling in love.

Vida Stephen has been nanny for twenty years to the mentally handicapped son of a rich American widower. Every day for most of her life, she nods to Norris Lamb, the postmaster, when calling for her mail. Sometimes Norris offers pretty stamps to the boy. A fussy, stamp-collecting bachelor and church organist, Norris has fallen suddenly, amazingly, and secretly in love with Vida.

Witness to Norris and Vida's halting, at times embarrassing courtship is Vida's charge, Manford - mute and clumsy and yet possessed of an odd and gentle intelligence. It is through Manford, even thanks to him, that Norris and Vida finally come to recognize each other and themselves.

Carrie Brown has an affinity for the way love transforms the most ordinary and imperfect people. In Lamb in Love, she celebrates a man and a woman who discover in themselves a bravery that allows them to become the heroes of their own story.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this beautifully written novel, Norris Lamb and Vida Stephen are unlikely candidates for romantic adventure. Norris, thought of as a confirmed bachelor at 55, is the postmaster of Hursley, a tiny village in rural England. Vida, at 41, has been the caretaker of severely retarded Manford Perry for 20 years, ever since his mother died giving birth to him. In July_ 1969, on the very day of the Apollo moon landing, Norris' perception of Vida, and ultimately himself, is suddenly, dramatically, and forever changed. Norris becomes Vida's secret admirer, wanting more than anything for her to experience the same surprised delight he is feeling. Vida, as she tries to discern the identity of her mystery lover, becomes aware of aspects of herself she has long denied and suppressed. But how will she reconcile her newfound desire to experience more of life with her continuing responsibility for Manford, whom she has come to love as her own? Brown's writing is elegant and unusually evocative. This gentle but astoundingly compelling story is a true celebration of the power of love to transform the ordinary into the magical. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)1565122038Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

True love comes crashing into Norris Lamb's life for the first time on his 55th birthday, the summer night in 1969 when man first walked on the moon. In Brown's (Rose's Garden) pellucid second novel, it is clear which of the two events is more earth-shattering. The hapless Norris, reconciled to bachelor life as the venerable postmaster of Hursley, a small town in the English countryside, has known Vida Stephen since childhood. Now 43, kind-hearted Vida has been a devoted nanny to mute, retarded Manford Perry, the motherless son of a generally absent architect father, since his birth 20 years ago. On the auspicious night when the Apollo astronauts explore the moon's surface, Norris glimpses the nearly naked Vida dancing in the moonlight around a fountain, and his life is forever altered. A shy, unassuming man, his dilemma now is how to best express his newfound feelings. Brown eloquently explores the terrain of human interactions, showing how genuine love can exalt ordinary individuals; her work is distinguished, above all, by her talent for investing them with dignity. Most touching is her portrayal of Vida's tenderness and dedication to her disabled charge, as he suffers unintended insults from the small-minded people who ignore or disdain a handicapped person. In contrast, the surpassingly effortless way Norris and Manford take to each other illustrates Brown's obvious belief in the transcendent possibilities inherent in simple acts of thoughtfulness and compassion. The quiet humor in her characterizations of the villagers and her bemused understanding of small-town life invest the narrative with a quiet authority. This warmhearted and moving story could be a sleeper. Author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Bantam will release Rose's Garden in April. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Middle-aged postal worker Norris Lamb falls madly in love with Vida Stephen, nanny to the disabled son of a wealthy American in an English village. The problem is that they barely know each other, and Lamb agonizes over exactly how to reveal his feelings without making a fool of himself. Both Lamb and Vida are innocents, consumed by family and job responsibilities, and know nothing of romance. As in Brown's previous novel, Rose's Garden (LJ 2/1/98), the characterization is beautifully done, with thoughtful, introspective players; the landscape is lovely; and the tale bittersweet. However, unlike its predecessor, the novel moves at a careful pace in order to allow the characters to develop fully. For fans of the character-driven fiction of Anne Tyler and Reynolds Price.¬ĎBettie Alston Shea, P.L. of Charlotte & Mecklenburg Cty., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpt from Chapter One of Lamb in Love a novel by Carrie Brown Norris sees how Manford, grown into adulthood, has become a handsome man in a way, though he appears like a child in most other respects. Vida, who began as Manford's nanny when she was twenty-two, has been looking after him his whole life, twenty years, Norris calculates. Before starting work at Niven's, Manford had spent all his time with her. But Mrs. Blatchford, who works at Niven's, has confided to Norris that it is Vida's program to instill something of the "thrill of independence" in Manford now, by coaxing him to walk part of the way home by himself when his work is finished. Since his infatuation with Vida began, Norris has watched very carefully as Mr. Niven escorts Manford across the Romsey Road, the baker's white apron flapping, his dusty flour cloth waving Manford along. Stopping in the bakery for a loaf of bread late one afternoon, Norris paused at the door to watch Mr. Niven and Manford waiting at the curb. Mrs. Blatchford stepped outside at that moment and began pinching the brown leaves from the geraniums in the window boxes. "Having his lesson," she said, following Norris's gaze to the two figures waiting patiently before the stream of traffic. "Vida's depending on us, you know." She lowered her voice, though there wasn't anyone else there to hear. "I do believe she's worrying about what will happen to him when she-you know. She wants to lengthen the reins a bit now, to prepare him." Norris turned away from the cars on the Romsey Road and Mr. Niven and Manford waiting at the curb. He stared at Mrs. Blatchford, stricken. "When she what?" he managed finally. "What do you mean by 'you know,' said in that way?" He felt himself growing fuzzy around the edges, the beginning of a faint-he was familiar with the symptoms. He'd fainted often when he was younger and doing most of his growing. Something to do with his blood pressure, Dr. Faber had said. "When she dies?" he asked finally, appalled. Mrs. Blatchford glanced over at him. "Oh, tsk! Norris Lamb!" she said. "Every time someone mentions dying, all you men grow faint in the head! What a pack of ninnies you are! Vida's not going to die-at least, not before her time, we may hope," she said primly. She crumbled the dry leaves of the geranium, put them in her apron pocket. "She's just worrying about the day, whenever it may come. That's what we women do. We must worry. We're the designated worriers, if you will." She leaned over the window box. Norris felt his heart begin beating again. He licked his lips. His mouth had gone dry. "Of course, no one's asking me," Mrs. Blatchford went on blithely, "but I think his father might have done a bit more for him over the years. He's left him entirely in Vida's hands, you know. And he's plenty of money, I should think. He might have found a good institution for him! Left Vida to get on with her life." Norris turned away from Mrs. Blatchford to Excerpted from Lamb in Love by Carrie Brown, Carrie Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.