What a treat – it is with the utmost pleasure that I have received this latest Jessica Redland novel to review. This is invariably going to be a hit, judging by the past novels I have read by this author and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
I immediately warmed to both Holly and Jake as characters. They both instantly seemed like wholesome family orientated folk; the kind of people you would want to count among your friends. Craig fell foul of my affections fairly early on, but especially when he was critical of Holly’s beautiful wood carvings. There really was no need to be snarky about them and he plummeted in my estimations. I wondered if Holly just liked being in a relationship, as opposed to being particularly attached to Craig? Jake, I just felt that he was lonely, partaking in little activity outside of work. I felt particularly sad at the way his older Sister had treated him in the past. Equally I felt terrible for Holly, at the amount of heartbreak she had endured in such a relatively short period! As for Larissa, to call her vile, would be a major understatement!
I liked the idea of Mr Pickles being sent to a Jake from heaven, to help him get brought the anniversary of his Mother’s death; it appealed to my emotional side. I just felt so desperate for Jake to be released from his sadness; Holly, going through similar feelings – could she be a good companion for him, or would they drown in each other’s misery? Either way, the pair of them both needed and deserved more happiness in their lives, and if they could get, that happiness from each other, then why not! At least they each would be empathetic to the other’s sorrow. I am no expert, but in my opinion, Jessica Redland dealt with the subject of grief in a most empathetic manner and I would hope that those that suffer from similar grief would get comfort from her writing.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jessica Redland has a rare gift. To be able to take two separate yet inexorably entwined tales of sorrow and to combine them into such a joyous, intelligent, empathetic novel really does take some truly special skills and I can but thank her for sharing these wonderful skills with us readers.
Please follow this link to get your own copy; if you garner half as much pleasure as I did with this read, then you will not be disappointed. https://amzn.to/34I47Zk
I thoroughly enjoyed Sandra Harris’ debut novel, Thirteen Stops, with each chapter representing a different character’s story; the characters were all people who travelled on the tram through Dublin. I loved the concept but I was left wanting to know so much more about the individuals stories and so it was with Immeasurable pleasure that I agreed to review this sequel novel when the author contacted me (cue huge fangirl moment on my part!) I enjoyed this novel perhaps even more than the first, if that were at all possible, and felt compelled to write a review worthy of this magnificent read.
Upon picking up this book I was thrilled to discover that not only did this book continue the stories started in the first book, but the characters in each chapter matched those in that previous book. This added to my enjoyment of the author’s approach and I thought it was a very intelligent way to add to the previous stories, with each chapter potentially providing comfort to those similarly afflicted.
Laura’s story is continued in chapter 1. I was disappointed in her – that she was still contacting the married dirtbag that is Paul. I could understand why Laura had her reservations about her Mother’s new relationship, but when it comes down to it, she maybe needs to let her a mum make her own mistakes, but be ready to be there to provide comfort if things do go wrong. I was genuinely stunned at what Laura ended up doing, even if she did feel bad about it. I felt that Laura was being delusional in trying to win married Paul back at the works Christmas party. However much I might not approve of the affairs Laura had, I wouldn’t have wished her any ill and so I was heartily shocked by the end of the chapter, particularly when a new job and new girlfriends had made Laura seem happier with her lot.
It seemed to me that the author did an amazing job of articulating the type of toxic relationships that some women cling onto, with cheating men and if reading this makes one woman realise that their similar relationship is not going anywhere, ever, then she has done an outstanding service to those deluded women.
The second chapter, although devoted to Suzanne, the Sister of Paul’s wife, Barbara, also gave us some snippets of insight into what had happened to some friends form the previous book – ‘intel’ that I jumped upon with glee. The fact that Suzanne was Barbara’s birthing partner made me wonder about Paul and Barbara’s relationship, although we know that she was aware of his affairs, it alluded to Paul’s general hopelessness in a critical situation. I liked the way that loyal Suzanne was so family oriented and ready to help her Sister at a moment’s notice. For the first time I felt myself warning to Barbara; I loved that the wore a Little Mermaid nightie on the labour ward, because her a daughters had chosen it! Paul continued not to impress me with his egotistic attitude; even with his wife in the throes of labour, it’s still ‘all about him’. This chapter also touches on homophobia. I don’t know whether this is more of a thing in Ireland or not – but regardless the topic is, as a I would expect, treated with the utmost understanding and compassion. This second chapter, I thought would provide comfort to those considering IVF or surrogacy, as the author treated the topics with such compassion. However, like the first chapter, it ended in a shocking manner and I started to wonder whether this shock aspect would continue throughout the novel.
The third stop in the book catches up with single Mother Fauve, who seems desperate for a bit of respite; I can certainly empathise with that, as I know many parents will be able to. Having a young baby can seem pretty endless, when you have no support – and I am just talking personally, about being left alone all day with a baby, when I had a supportive Husband coming hone at night. Things were starting to look up for Fauve – until the most terrIble thing happened.
The fourth stop, continued the story of Fauve’s friend Orla and her boyfriend Nathan. To be brutally honest I was partially surprised that Orla and Nathan were still a couple – but only partially. The author has highlighted, in a brave and honest piece of writing, how difficult it can be for woman who are abused (be it verbally or physically) by their partners, to actually follow through with their gut thoughts and leave them. By the end of this stop, it seemed as though a Orla had lost her mind. I couldn’t help but think that this was a cumulative thing; from the way she was treated by her Mother and Stepfather, the way she had looked after her two half Brothers , yet was used by them, and the abuse she had received from Nathan. All of this trauma was topped by fact that her housemate had given birth to a beautiful baby after a one night stand, and the fact that her Brother was asking her for money to fund an abortion for his girlfriend. Something just had to blow, This story was extremely well written and sympathetic towards Orla, despite its shocking content. If I were in Orla’s shoes, I would find comfort from the level of understanding in this piece.
Mick and Donna from stop 5, were a lovely couple and I liked the idea of them getting some good news. I had no doubt in my mind that they would forgive their Son, such were their temperaments. Mick is however struggling with his Son’s revelations and what he has brought home with him and he is also hiding something from Donna. We hear about why Mick gets so upset about his Brother’s death, when they were children. I just hope, for this family’s sake, that Mick can get over his issues, that he can come to terms with Adam’s situation, and that he doesn’t pursue his illicit dalliance any further; he is too nice a chap.
Graeme and Vicky’s story is continued in stop 6. They are both such kind and generous people. Indeed, Vicky describes Graeme as a ‘genuinely decent person’. I felt for Vicky with her dilemma with regard to Andrew’s errant Father. Needless to say, I was thoroughly shocked at Graeme’s Mother’s tactics to try and scare Vicky off. What an awful woman! I did not like her one bit, but I thought she was portrayed in such a believable manner – fantastic writing, yet again! Vicky seemed to have a gift for dealing with situations in appropriate manners, which is exactly what she did with Andrew’s Father. I was so impressed with the way that the author dealt with the situation, and with her empathy towards and understanding of autism. I appreciated the way that this pair were so open and honest with each other, for example Vicky could have kept quiet about meeting up with Andrew’s Father, but instead asked for and received Graeme’s unequivocal support. I felt so sad for Andrew, with regard to Tommy, but the author seemed to know exactly what to do to lift the mood of the book at just the right spot, with the perfect injection of humour, betwixt the sadness.
Carl and Tara’s story in chapter 7, caught me unawares to a certain extent and I found myself re-reading the opening pages of the chapter a couple of times, in order to convince myself that the occurrence really had taken place! It felt like the opening scenes of a Hollywood romcom. This stop was a prime example of how situations can contrast so, dependent on whose outlook you are looking at things from. Neither Carl nor Tara came out of this story well and I felt sympathy for neither of them. I thought that Karen and Carl had been naive and Tara guilty of thinking money can buy you anything. The only person I had any modicum of sympathy for, was Ritchie. I did however feel that the chapter was extremely well written and a great example of how not to judge others.
I was keen to catch up with Jean and Liz’s stories at stop eight, having garnered snippets of positive sounding information about Liz , from various other peoples stories. She had gained a certain level of local notoriety, of a sympathetic nature. Again an example of how we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, based on Liz’s story thus far. The scene with the family barbecue seems endearing at first – unless you know the story of Liz so far – then it is heartbreaking. It was however good to see people using writing almost as a form of therapy.
The author very cleverly left tidbits about what had happened to Laura in the previous chapter, further intertwining the two stories. It doesn’t fail to thrill me, the way that Sandra Harris mingles these stories, leaving subtle little breadcrumb trails for readers like me to search out and pounce upon like avid little mice.
The thing I took away most form this chapter however was the acts of friendship between Liz and Jean; simply beautiful.
Oh Jamie, how I wanted to know more about your story, and my wish was achieved in chapter nine. This stop tells of Jamie’s experience of homophobia from within his very own family. how shocking. Frankly I was shocked that Jamie was still part of a couple with the idle Callum! A most unpleasant character in my opinion. I was thoroughly pleased that by the end of the chapter, things were looking a lot more positive for Jamie.
Philippa’s story is continued in chapter ten. This chapter brings shocking news of Shane, Philippa’s Brother-in-law (Nicola’s Husband) Little Kimmie continues to have what seem like supernatural capabilities. They receive further terrible news, when a new addition to the family turns up. The chapter ends on a spooky note.
The story from chapter ten kind of spills over to the following chapter, where we learn more about Philippa and Michael. In the last book Michael sacrificed part of his relationship with Philippa, for his first love, Melissa. Michael comes clean with Philippa, but it makes Kimmie’s actions and drawings seem even more spooky. Things seem to end well for Philippa and a Michael though, so that is good and Kimmie’s amazing foresight seems to save the dah again!
Stop 11 goes back to the story of young Becks, an I was hoping to feel a little less emotional about her this time around. We find Becks busy at work, working on the launch of Melissa’s posthumous book. Becks has had shocking news about her Mother’s disappearance, when she was but 5 years old, so seems to have thrown herself into her work, having dumped the rat formerly known as Barry, too. I thought that what happened between Vic and Becks rather weird, but if it helped her get closure over her Mother’s fate – then so be it! I was so pleased that asks story end with some good fortune, after her rather torrid past. Good on her!
Chapter twelve catches up with Laura again. It’s a bitter pill to swallow (excuse the turn of phrase), that whilst Paul has called the emergency services and saved her life, he hasn’t actually visited her in hospital; nobody has. I was delighted that Laura seemed to banish some of her demons, as well as improve her relationship with her Mother. What a fantastic way for her story to end.
I have got so much out of the way that the different peoples stories interconnect (a bit like a tram network!) that I feel the need to proffer further praise to Sandra Harris. It is truly amazing, the way in which the different tram passengers stories interconnect and then little clues about other stories are casually dropped in various chapters. Sandra Harris must have a brain the size of a planet, to actually remember all the stories in such detail, so as to be able to join them so subtly and seamlessly, with seemingly casual thoughts or comments, offering information about another story. Each passenger has their own different problems, yet Sandra somehow manages to portray each issue with the utmost compassion. She surely can’t possibly have personally suffered at the hands of every one of these issues, yet she never fails to treat each problem with the utmost compassion. Sandra Harris is surely the ultimate empath and I cannot imagine how many women she has helped in some way through her written word.
I have to confess to loving Judy Leigh’s novels, and so it is with great anticipation that I am starting to read Lil’s bus trip. The anticipation – since I’m sure you are asking yourself about that – is about how to approach this undoubted gem. Should I stay up all night and binge read, lapping the words up greedily like the proverbial cat who’s got the cream – or can I manage a more measured approach; savouring each word, each sentence, like a favourite glass of good wine, or treasured chocolate? Will I demolish this indisputable luxury in one fell swoop, or can I ration the pleasure, in order to make it last longer, allowing me to revel in its glory? (Indeed, is this book a delicacy for me, or a luxury?)Time (and self control) will tell, but I hope that this time I can show some restraint and make the enjoyment last that little bit longer!
Unusually, I was really quite taken with the front cover of this novel. I loved the glorious WYSIWYG feel to it – overflowing with fun, colour and maybe a hint of romance, all enveloped in a fresh bright feel and an overwhelming sense of calm. I also felt incredibly drawn to the subject matter of the trip being embarked upon. I have always liked the idea of visiting the Normandy beaches, such are their historical draw; indeed in an ideal world, such a trip would be mandatory for European teenagers, from all the countries involved in WWII.
Octogenarian Lily is a wonderful character; a unicorn in a field of ponies; the type of person that persistently makes the world seem like a better place. I adored the fact that one of her supposed hobbies, was teasing Keith in the cafe! I have such a fondness for personalities that defy societal ‘norms’ and those character expectations that seem to exist alongside today’s contemporary fiction. Similarly I have the utmost respect for Judy Leigh’s writing and the way that she gives voice to her amazing, often quirky characters. I also love Judy’s effortless recognition that, reflecting the real world, not all literary heroines are slim, stunningly beautiful and under 30 years of age. In a corresponding fashion, not all men in books are of the hunky variety.
I was greatly saddened by Lil’s main memory of 1953. Things have certainly changed for the better since then, as society has woken up to its peoples needs. I found some of Lil’s memories of that year difficult to read; the way she was ostracised by her family – made to feel a lesser person. Full credit to Judy Leigh for broaching what can still be an emotive issue and for describing what really did happen to many women back then. The issue was undoubtedly handled with the respect that it deserved.
Nonetheless in the current day, Lil sounded pretty happy, living in her assisted living complex just across the road from the sea. She reminded me of my dear old Nan, in that respect. She always used to say of her pensioner life-style, that she had never had things so good. She reminded me a bit of my dear old Nan – she always did have the most marvellous outlook on life and I can but hope to emulate that outlook on life when I am in my eighties and nineties. As for Lil, she lives a pretty good life, with green foil wrapped triangular chocolates as her panacea. What’s not to love! I must admit to almost being able to palpably feel the electricity in the air, when Herman turned up for a surprise visit.
Cassie, Lil’s Daughter and Lil’s friend Maggie find themselves booked to go on a minibus tour around three countries in Europe, organised by the local pub landlord. What a unique plot, surely guaranteed to raise some laughs in this house! I did feel sad for Lil’s friend Maggie who seemed to have devoted her life to pandering to her Husband Brian’s every whim. The friends were discussing the impending bus trip bus trip and Maggie was saying how she couldn’t possibly go, in case Brian needed her for some spurious reason. I know of course that this is a work of fiction, but I just felt so acutely aware that for some women, being downtrodden and treated in this demeaning manner, is a completely normal way of life. I felt that the author treated the topic in a thoroughly sympathetic manner, and hopefully she will have helped to raise awareness of this kind of ill treatment. I was drawn out of my malaise, to the extent that I was chuckling rather loudly to myself, at the eventual agreed approach – that Maggie would just go on the trip without saying goodbye – and see how long it would take for Brian to notice that she had actually gone away!
Jamie was an interesting multi-layered character – a bit like an onion. I felt for him, having to juggle coping with a chronic illness whilst enduring house sharing with someone that he is besotted with; worse still, the object of his affections is clearly oblivious to his devotion. I feared for Jamie; was he strong enough to cope without Cassie? Did he read more into their relationship on the romantic front, than she did and if so, how would he cope with the devastation of finding that out, or finding out about a relationship between Cassie and another man?
I liked the relationships between the travellers on the mini bus – how their rapport grew by the day, to the extent that they were happily teasing each other and exchanging banter, for example teasing Ken about the new book he was writing. I found it compelling that Lil was seeking out new friends and experiences; the antithesis of society’s expectation of someone who has moved to an assisted living situation. I saw this as a sign to people of a certain age – that you’re never too old to try something new. There certainly was still was plenty of life left for living, in the old duck that was Lil.
Vulnerability is a theme throughout the book and the author deals with it most eloquently. Denise feels left out within the travelling party. Cassie tries to reach out to her, but it’s not very successful as Cassie is part of why Denise feels like she does. No blame can be attributed to Cassie – it’s just that Denise has this overwhelming sense of Cassie being perfect and of not being able to live up that standard.The other susceptible person is Jamie. He is clearly missing Cassie, and is underplaying how he feels. This quite rightly leaves Cassie concerned about him. The point when Jamie realises that Cassie is still going to be away for another 8 days, is positively heartbreaking wrenching. As a reader I was concerned about Jamie too – a testament to how realistic Judy Leigh makes her characters – to the extent that you genuinely find yourself caring about them.
Humour also features strongly throughout the book, with my favourite moment involving three of the older travellers, pot brownies and strip poker; enough said! In addition I think that the book sends messages about age – that you are never to old to find love – or in fact to do anything, should you choose to do so! What a fantastic outlook on life!
This book really was a panacea. I managed not to make the mistake of staying up all night to binge read it and I made it last a little longer. It brightened up my life. Even though I am nowhere near as old as Lil, this book affected me.
It made me laugh (in a most unbecoming fashion, at times).
It made me smile.
It made me laugh.
It made me cry. (most unbecoming again; funny tears; big ugly wet tears).
It made me see that you’re never too old for love.
it made me see you’re never too old to travel.
It made me realise that you’re never too old for anything, and especially anything new. Just listen to your heart.
It made me see that each of us is our own person – and you can do what the heck you like (so long as it’s legal!)
It made me want to make the most of my life, however old I may be; to seize every opportunity that crosses my path.
It made me think of death but in a positive way – as in thinking of good life lived.
This was one deep, powerful piece of writing, disguised as a lighter work of contemporary fiction.
Having previously read and thoroughly enjoyed 2 previous books by Liz Davies, based in Ticklemore, to say that I am excited to read this tome is a bit of an understatement! I am so looking forward to going back to Ticklemore to mingle with some old friends and to hopefully make many more. For me to offer to read a third book in a series gives you, my reader, an insight into how much I enjoyed the previous books, and how much joy I am anticipating from this read.
Lis Davies humour shone out throughout the book, which always makes a novel that bit more enticing for me. Am example was on the very first page, with the satirical names of some of the beers in the pub; how they made me chuckle! I’m not a gin drinker, but I think even I could be tempted by some of Violet’s delicious sounding offerings!
Violet was an appealing character; sassy, fun and an admirable businesswoman. Logan too made the perfect male lead. The pair of them seemed like a match made in heaven:
tangible attraction between the two of them – I’d go as far as calling it electric
beautiful young things
a distiller v a landlord
Liz Davies writes beautifully and empathetically and her portrayal of Logan’s Mother, Marie was another example of her superlative, Intelligent writing. I was however uncertain and a little uneasy as to the meaning behind the hold that Marie seemed to have over him. As the Mother of a Son, I know that it can be hard to let go, and that no woman is ever really good enough for your perfect offspring, but this felt like something more. I felt that she did not auger well for any future rapport between the otherwise foolproof coupling.
It appears that Logan may have a rival though, in the form of the local farmer, Sam. To be honest, both men seemed infinitely eligible and suitable for Violet!
I was delighted come across Juliette and Silas and Nell again; akin to bumping into old friends (The eclectic Ticklemore characters do tend to grow on you).
As Logan and Violet discussed collaborating, they were beginning to sound increasingly perfect as a couple and my hopes were raised, provided that his Mother didn’t put too much of a spanner in the works!
Please read this wonderful, uplifting tale for yourself, to find out whether or not Marie can come around to Logan having love in his life.
Having been unceremoniously dumped, again, and after an unfortunate incident at work, Grace goes home to Cornwall for the summer. I felt for her, in that she seemed a perfectly normal woman to me and had no reason to feel how she did when her fella dropped her like a stone. Quite what Gavin’s Brother was accusing Grace for, when he verbally attacked her, I really do not know! It’s a mystery to me and I suspect it was to a Grace, too. I felt that the author highlighted very well just how odd some people can be!
Grace’s friend Joan was a real breath of fresh and was portrayed as such a fun, loveable character, oozing with local gossip for Grace! Jason was love.y and I loved him even more when he managed to ask Grace his burgeoning question. What’s not to love!
I do enjoy a bit of mystery and this was provided by the masked surfer; who on earth was he? Was he a local? Would Grace and Joan know him from school? Humour is also a necessity, provided by Grace’s neighbour Gerald!
I found myself really caring about Grace, wanting her to stay in Cornwall having found love; this was such a feel good novel, that those kind of outcomes would be the ‘icing on the cake’ for me.
I liked the idea of a novel set in Malta; if I can’t go on holiday abroad this year, I shall choose to vacation vicariously through my reading habits! I enjoyed the descriptions of Malta and at times I could almost imagine I was there. Judith was a great character, but I felt for her as her relationship with Giorgio didn’t seem to be what it once was. She seemed to be living in the stark reality of what their life had become after the ‘Shirley Valentine-esque’ advent of their relationship. I really did feel for her though at the reaction of Giorgio’s family to their relationship; even if it was a cultural thing.
Although fate was not kind to Judith, she dealt with its outcome with typical British stoicism and I admired her for that. I also admired the author for the compassionate way with which she dealt with Judith’s situation; she cleverly managed to portray just the right balance of drama, whilst retaining the realism of the story and the situation. I found that I was genuinely sad at the idea of Judith giving up her lovely life in Malta and returning to England.
It transpired that financial affairs were not Giorgio’s forte; however by the time that this became apparent, I had become so invested in Judith’s future, that I was desperate for his financial dealings with Judith to be innocent, albeit ill advised. I am such a romantic and prefer to see the best in people until proven otherwise. This has been my undoing on more than one occasion, but it’s me and I simply can’t help it.
I had the utmost respect for Judith’s relationship with her stepson Kieran; proof that you don’t have to be blood relatives in order to have an enviable Mother/Son connection. Indeed, their connection was more solid than that between Kieran and his Father; the foundations constructed from a combination of love and mutual respect. The power of Judith’s love as Kieran’s ‘Mother’ shone through, with her reaction to the Kieran/Beth storyline. I was equally touched by the rapport between Judith and her Mother, an example being the problem page discussion between them. Their mutual admiration was portrayed simply, yet beautifully.
I garnered great pleasure from the easy going relationship between Judith and Adam and I had great hopes for the two of them. I liked the easy humour between them, an example being when Fingers went missing. I found myself enchanted by the way that their relationship seemed to build up momentum in a perfectly controlled manner.
In all, I found this to be charming, relaxing read, and I cannot wait to read the next offering from the Sue Moorcroft stable.
Number three in a series of books. I felt pleased at this, as despite not having discovered any of the other books in the series, they must have been good, in order for the series to be commissioned. Thus began my high hopes fot this novel.
I instantly felt for Katie and Connor, trying to organise an imminent wedding, with the interference of Katie’s Mother – to the extent of offering last minute dress suggestions! I mean – all very well intentioned I’m sure, but most self respecting brides wouldn’t want to wear their Mother’s 1970’s cast offs!
Empathy abounded at the ‘wedding’ and I just couldn’t get Katie out of my thoughts. The author had built up to the defining moment rather well though I thought. Full credit to Katie for going off to her honeymoon destination.
I felt for Connor – I didn’t particularly feel that he was in the wrong and Laura was an eminently likeable character. Katie seemed obsessed with everything being just so – with complying with society’s ‘norms’ – indeed with keeping her colouring within the lines. I was desperate for her to discover herself and to let go – to let herself go outside the lines.
As well as being about relationships, the book did have some humour – a prime example being Katie’s parents and their relationship!
Having read many Daisy James books before, starting this book was like stepping into a new pair of slippers from my favourite brand. You just know you are going to love them and they will fit perfectly, but they also have that lovely new feeling. I can only apologise to the author if she doesn’t like being compared to that old friend type of feeling, but it it really is a compliment. Knowing, before you have even started a book, that you are guaranteed to enjoy it, merely adds to its appeal in my opinion.
I felt immediate empathy for Abbie after her partner proposed, after she had spotted him in Tiffanys. Of Dan – I equally quickly smelled a rat, but hoped not for Abbie’s sake. After all nobody but a rat accepts an award that really should belong to his girlfriend.
Public embarrassment is never great and poor Abbie suffered public humiliation in extremis at the hands of Dan. If I didn’t like him before, then after that night……poor Abbie, I felt for her more than ever, even if she had jumped to conclusions!
After being subjected to such a public humiliation, pulse being dumped by text, it would have been a really great time for Abbie to discover that she had been left a property in Corfu by an elderly, estranged Aunt……..even better, if it were a hotel with land, a garden that could do with a keen botanist’s attention and perhaps a few vines thrown in to boot…….how I love karma!
Fast forward to the Hummingbird Hotel, Corfu. I love the element of humour in the book at this point, with the confusion over whether the property was in Corfu or Florida🤓 A further humorous note hit the spot for me, as the author described the frizzy mess that was Abbie’s hair, when she had not been on Corfu long; something that I think many readers, and this one in particular can empathise with! Finally on humour, I couldn’t fail to mention the gorgeous Nikos, going along with Abbie’s presumption that he was ‘just’ a taxi driver and then telling her that there was a group of clients about to check in for a cookery holiday; how did he know that this was not Abbie’s forte!à
I adored the unique concept of attributing a flower to each chapter of the book; it was so clever, especially with Abbe’s career aspirations. I don’t know about you but I absolutely love bougainvillea, which was the flower for the first chapter set in Corfu. It is such a beautiful flower and it makes me want to close my eyes and imagine the sights and smells of both holidays past and those yet to be taken.
There are lots more laughs and fascinating people throughout the book, but is anything or anyone what they first seem? There is an element of mystery surrounding Abbie’s late Aunt and the hotel; indeed, how/why did she fall out with Abbie’s Mum, to the extent that Abbie had never even met her? Is Nikos really as grumpy as the persona he likes to portray? Is there more to Felix than meets the eye – or should that be eyeful?
With potential love, plenty of mystery, elements of fun and a hint of whodunnit, this book had everything that I could want from a book. The depth of the characters was such that I warmed to them all and felt genuinely bought into their ultimate outcome. I loved Abbie and desperately wanted to see her find love. Furthermore I was determined that she should see the obvious round her – that she could find love again and that the hotel would be the perfect blank canvas upon which she might exhibit her botanical skills and prowess. Will the reader find the answers to the enigmas in this book, will Abbie find love, and more importantly will she ultimately ‘find herself’ and fulfill her botanical potential, in the Corfiot countryside. Most importantly, can she modify her life plan and be happy in Corfu? I was in awe of the sense of community within the immediate vicinity of the hotel and I so wanted Abbie to become a permanent part of that community.
I so enjoyed this novel – so imagine my joy, when I got to the end and discovered that there will be a sequel. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on ‘Summer at the Hummingbird Hotel’.
When I picked this book up and saw that it was the fourth in a series, I was momentarily conflicted – between knowing that this book would undoubtedly be a book that I would enjoy (it was popular enough to become a series) and a sense of having missed out on three previous books. I opted for the former assumption and I discovered, to my mixed delight, yet shame that I was not wrong. The delight – This book was enchanting from the very first word to the last, and it brought unequivocal joy to my weekend, especially when I realised (to my shame – how could I have not realised) that I had actually read one book in the series about Julianne before; so it was on a par with greeting old friends or family that you haven’t seen for ages. The author’s undoubted talent was in no way diluted and I am immensely looking forward to appeasing my self-contempt by consuming the remaining tomes in the series, as soon as humanly possible.
In my defence – there are lots of novels set in Cornwall – but having finished reading this novel, I can confirm that this particular novel comes from a truly thoroughbred stable and I can only apologise to Laura Briggs for my temporary lack of recollection for the glorious Julianne and her equally splendid family.
Being a Mother who has tried to make various costumes over the years, I immediately empathised with Julianne as she was making her Son’s frog costume. It brought to mind the time my Daughter came home from school with ‘the dreaded letter’ many years ago. Some witt had decided that she and her peers should dress up as mathematical instruments. Cue me, spending days making the most diabolical looking calculator costume ever! I embroidered the detail on all the buttons and it was still bad. What still rankles to this day, is the fact that the school gave a prize to a kid wearing a box, with dice dots painted on! I was probably most peeved that the dice costume looked so much better than my calculator, even if it had taken a fraction (while we are in the subject of maths🤓) of the time to pull off!
The story starts around Halloween and such were the wonderful descriptions of the seasonal paraphernalia, I almost felt as though I was there, surrounded by pumpkins and apples with autumnal scents pervading the atmosphere. My read was in its infancy, but I was already enjoying it immensely. This was fuelled no doubt by the marvellous partnership that was Julianne and Kitty, together with Julianne’s gorgeous family. I defy anyone not to immediately warm to these central characters in the book.
Sadly there had been some vandalism in the village where this book was set. This had been attributed to the local errant youths – but could the incidents be down to something else a little more sinister? After all, every born and bred local has known about the village ghosts, from an early age……It certainly seems that once a tiny seed of intrigue and mystery has been planted, nothing is going to stand in its wake. It’s akin to unknown seeds in a compost heap. Nobody is quite sure how they got there, but once they have taken root, they go mad and nothing is able to stop them. (Fond memories of courgettes grown from chicken droppings loaded on to the compost heap)!
So, with Halloween just around the corner and the advent of local ghost walks, together with a ghoulish book about local history produced by Kitty’s cousins, one wonders whether or not there are actually some eerie goings on locally, or whether people are merely jumping onto some kind of supernatural bandwagon. Could there be a more heart-rending conclusion to this story?
Regardless of the truth – whether there are paranormal goings on or not, what I can assure you of is an intelligent, well thought out novel, with complex yet loveable characters. The ability to empathise with such well thought out characters, or old friends as I like to refer to them as (from having read ‘Wedding Vows and Cornish Ribbons’), together with the spectacular sights, sounds and smells of Cornwall, make for a five star, unputdownable read, that has hidden depths; its hidden pockets of humour serve to both delight and captivate the reader. Appropriately, given the subject matter, might I suggest that you may be simultaneously beguiled and bewitched by this novel.
To find out exactly what is going on, you will have to read this ghostbuster of a book for yourself. To purchase your own copy, please use this link: https://smarturl.it/cornishgold
Well talk about polar opposites; within the first chapter of this book, Jago was grating on me; the way that he spoke to Kara was awful. Nobody deserves to be spoken to the way he spoke to her. I guess this immediately increased my empathy for Kara as a character; indeed I will always champion the ugliest hamster, the scrawniest kitten, the puniest guinea pig, the general underdog – it’s just part of my nature and after so many years, my reputation! It did seem as though Kara’s Father was loving and supportive though, and I was glad of that. I also warmed immediately to Harry Moon – Kara’s archetypal Grandfather, overflowing with a combination sageness and kindness. Kara seemed such a lovely, caring, hardworking character, that I really couldn’t understand what she saw in Jago – and I’m not sure she was convinced! Sometimes a bad relationship almost becomes a habit, and you stick with it, for want of something better. I just hoped with all my heart that Jago would somehow establish his worth and blow my suppositions about him out if the water, such was the way that I cared about Kara’s outcome, from very early on in the book.
The descriptions of Cornwall in this book were wonderful and I almost felt compelled to pack my bags and go down there on holiday post haste! At times the narrative was such that if I closed my eyes I almost felt as though I was there. Being able to immerse myself in a book in this way, goes a long way towards ensuring my enjoyment of the book, and then the addition of some likeable characters with whom I can empathise, practically guarantees it!
Another positive in my mind, was the fact that Kara was an animal lover; she was furious when Jago was mean to her cat. I cannot help but love an animal lover! The fact that Jago has never physically hurt Kara was mentioned in the book, but it was pretty clear fairly early on that he did not worry about the affect of his words and controlling manner, on Kara. This attitude of Jago’s resonated with me, firstly because it was so well written and secondly because it was providing page room and hence awareness of a problem that is all too real for so many women. It is almost as though controlling men feel that their behaviour is ok, because they are not physically striking their partner. Any book that highlights the issues of controlling behaviour and verbal abuse towards partners and women in particular, is a good thing in my mind and full credit to the author for raising these kinds of behaviours and highlighting that it’s just not ok. I can only imagine that this story might provide comfort for a woman suffering in the same way as Kara, providing a kind of reassurance to the sufferer that they are not the only one and that they are not alone.
I always enjoy a bit of romance nudging into the books I read and my eyes fell upon Billy, who works with Kara’s Dad. He came across as a genuinely lovely chap and I had great hopes for him and Kara, despite him being a few years younger than her. He certainly holds a bit of a thing for Kara. Poor Billy really seems to suffer at the sight of the steady procession of men that seem to book into and stay at Kara’s airbnb.
I was slightly alarmed at Kara advertising for a lodger to live in her flat with her. Such was my fondness for Kara, I couldn’t help but worry about her sharing her domain with a complete stranger. I almost need to laugh at myself, becoming so invested in the characters of a book; I can’t help myself. They were portrayed in such a way, that I couldn’t help but care about their futures very early on in the book. Once again, full plaudits to the author.
I like an element of mystery in the books I read, and there were questions to be answered in this book. Why does Kara take a random day off work? Why did Kara’s Mother leave? Why does Kara put up with the way Jago treats her? Who is the trip to New York from? These questions, and others that pop up, will be answered as you read this charming novel for yourself and if you are like me, you will find yourself wanting more; a sequel perhaps?
Kara’s trip away was a book highlight for me. Who secretly wouldn’t jump at the chance to be treated a little like Julia Robert’s in ‘Pretty Woman’. The portrayal of the trip was equally exhilarating yet mysterious! Who on earth had arranged all of this and lavished Kara with the secret treats! It was a veritable treasure hunt of surprises and delights., all somehow linked to Kara’s Airbnb guests. What not to be beguiled by! What a thrilling enigma for any reader; myself I revelled in the imagination and the thrill and romance of it all and I just couldn’t wait to find out who was behind all of this!
I enjoyed the humour in the book, verging on farce, an example being when James Bond ran off with Sid Vicious in his mouth, and returns the next day, when Jago has come to collect said turtle, with a shell in his mouth! Now I am an animal lover and I would never condone animal cruelty, but this situation was so farcical, it was hilarious! 10/10 for the author for having the imagination to come up with such a preposterous snippet.
Despite Kara’s frequent mistranslation of ‘wherefore’ from Shakespeare’s Juliet’s quote, I loved her for who she was and wanted nothing but good things for her. She was a constant delight and brought life to this wonderful read. I simply cannot wait to read the second tome in this series (although I guess I’ll have to!). Hopefully it won’t be too long a wait!