About halfway through my copy of the library book, there is a note in pencil on the margin, "this book has an awful lot of padding." It is hard to argue with the anonymous critic. There is an awful lot of describing how great and funny and charming Ellie, and Ben, and Mrs Malloy are. I believe we do get it. Those pages would be put to much better use by showing, not telling, the delapidatedly gothic state of Mucklesfield. Or making other characters more real. I understand this is a book to escape from reality to some idealized English village with its eccentric inhabitants and crumbing manor house. But the escape would even better if the inhabitants weren't all paper-thin and actions bore some relation to their motivation.