Jane Bailey's second Cotswold novel, Mad Joy, is the equal of her first, Tommy Glover's Sketch of Heaven. They are both cleverly crafted with major and minor characters sympathetically created and both have charm and tension in equal measure. Mad Joy, however, has a kernel of truth about it, for is partially based on an event in her own family history.
Mad Joy starts between the wars and in it, a little girl runs into a wood and, two years later, runs out again, into the house of spinster Gracie. Where does she come from and what became of her in those two years? Gracie has no wish to delve as the truth might take little Joy away from her. Joy, herself, may have her own, deeply buried reasons for not examining her past. Full of this author's trade-mark humour and containing some of her most memorable characters, this novel builds slowly to a climax, hint by hint, as the aptly named Joy approaches adulthood and the secret of those two years and of her earlier life comes to light.