After the Rain – Lucy Dillon

I do so love the unique blend of emotions that Lucy Dillon brings to us through her books, and so it was with great excitement that I settled down to read this instalment. It was with great anticipation that I contemplated the opportunity to both meet new great characters, and to perhaps revisit some former favourites. Having been ’bitten’ on more than one occasion in the past, I have made sure not to start reading too late at night, because I don’t want to be up all night reading?

I adored both Tara and Branston, from the moment I inhaled the prologue; I so loved the idea of a golden labrador, dressed up as a lion and I stored an appropriate image in my mind, filed under ’joyous occasions’. I loved the fact that not only was Branston dressed up, but that he was dressed in a wholly appropriate costume for his colouring, if not for his temperament. I did however feel a deluge of emotion, at the end of that first chapter, as much for that which was left unsaid, as for that which passed anyone’s lips. It felt to me like a life changing event, that would live on in Tara’s heart, long after the actual incident.

In the present day, I found myself warming to Tara, yet vaguely amused by the idea of past skeletons almost deliberately jumping out of the closet at the most inopportune moments! I liked the subtle humour rippling through the book, an example being Tara’s support of the ‘Ditch the Drive’ campaign, which basically seemed to involve her parking a street or two further away from work, in the hope of not being spotted in the car, whilst yearning to be spotted on the walk from the car to the office. The humour ramps up when Tara gets spotted parking by a colleague and is trying to look as though she hasn’t just got out of her car, whilst gazing at her handbag, sitting happily on her seat!

I was very taken with the way that Tara and David shared the same kind of views on therapy – the way that their shared opinion of some of the more whacky forms of therapy actually brought them together. This was also another opportunity for some welcome humour, for example when they share the judging of the clinic home brew competition.

On a personal front, Tara’s ever changing relationship with her Father evoked memories for me. I found myself genuinely caring about the outcome of their fledgling liaisons, wanting the best convlusion for them both. This felt especially important for Tara, given her current mourning for her Mother. The introduction of Molly also resonated strongly with me, but from personal experience, I thought that the author dealt with the storyline with the utmost empathy.

This was a marvellous, joyful, empathetic read, about family and about love; about the fragility of these feelings and how vulnerable they can be to misunderstandings. A story about feelings and memories; about the inadvertent way that history can reinvent itself, via the brain’s selective memory – not only selective regarding what is remembered, and what is believed, but how those memories manifest themselves and the use that those beliefs are put to.


A Christmas Surprise – Rosie Green

What a treat it is to visit Sunnybrook, synonymous with the Little Duck Pond Cafe at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.

I felt so much empathy for Tina, but was convinced that she was actually doing too well, following the death of her Mother the previous year. I am a firm believer that bottling things up, akin to an active volcano, or a geyser, simply isn’t healthy. I was glad that she had a friend like Meg, to look out for her.

This story did make me think about my life, and the fact that I can see my Mum or talk to her, whenever I want – in future I will appreciate that fact more, as one never knows what is around the corner! It also felt like a salutary reminder to us all, to think about those have no family or nowhere to go for the festive period, as well as those, like Tina, who have experienced a tragic loss over the Christmas period, and thereafter, struggle to celebrate like before.

I found myself willing for things to go well with Mark; perhaps he had an identical twin brother, with a girlfriend – although in my heart I guess I knew he was a rat!

in all, I enjoyed this gentle, joyous Christmas story and it did give me food for thought. I was also delighted to read the news about the next Little Duck Pond Cafe book, due early next year. I can’t wait!


The Golden Girls’ Getaway – Judy Leigh

It is with great excitement that I take my first dip into what is guaranteed to be a fantastic read from Judy Leigh. Her books, which disregard the modern women’s’ fiction ‘norm’ of ‘gorgeous Twirties-something woman meets hunk and falls in love’ never fail to entertain and I love the understanding that today’s leading character can be of any age whatsoever. You don’t have to be under thirty to want to have fun/love/friendship/sex/romance in your life, or to ‘simply be’ <she shouts from the rooftops, to anyone who is listening>!

I sometimes find myself wondering what cake my latest read would be. This latest offering from Judy Leigh, wouldn’t just be one cake – it would be the most sumptuous afternoon tea; a varied spread, oozing with decadence and just a little bit naughty.

What a fantastic concept – the idea of three women ‘of a certain age’ travelling around the UK in a camper van, to get out of London and to get away from COVID lockdown and how isolated it has made them feel. Again, plaudits to Judy Leigh for recognising that you don’t have to be of a particular age, to have fun!

Vivienne, Mary and Gwen have been leading an alliteratively dull life, undoubtedly exacerbated by lockdown – bland, bleak, blank, boring……….

I had huge empathy for the three friends, especially when silence is described as her constant companion. I so wanted friendship, fun and laughter to take over that companionship role for her and so was delighted when a series of events lead to the friendly triumvirate setting off on holiday together in a four berth motorhome.

I loved the way the author depicted how the friends felt, once they had escaped London, at the realisation that they were actually ‘getting away from it all’ after months of lockdown. One couldn’t help but share their overwhelming joy; I for one felt nothing but empathy for them and the narrative described so eloquently how many people have felt during these unprecedented times.

I adored the way that Mary was so excited about going to Dorset, as she had never been there before; I confess to feeling a tad ashamed, as having grown up in Dorset, I have always taken it for granted somewhat. The way that the friends saw the best in every situation was surely a lesson in humility and gratification to us all. I for one will think back to the wonder of singing and dancing around Stonehenge on a torrentially rainy morning, the very next time that I am presented with a cup less than half full.

The book was laced with a variety of emotions, from poignancy through to sadness, and humour. The humour was subtle but I had some laugh out loud moments, for example Vicente’s ’moment’ in Gwen’s flat and the scene when the barman was thrilled at having recognised Vivienne from a stairlift advert, when she had been certain that nobody would recognise her!

Whilst the friends felt somehow alive, getting outside of London for the first time in ages, it seemed that Mary for one, was feeling in touch with her own mortality, especially after her recent heart attack, if only to wonder at how she had ’suddenly’ gone from being 65 years old, to being over 80! I got the sense that she was going to enjoy life more from now on and I felt that we could all learn from that attitude.

I loved the things that came to mind during their travels, such as the thought of looking into the possibility of an allotment once back in London. I also felt sad at the thoughts of loves lost – of what had been and what could have been. The friends’ capacity to encompass new things and concepts was strangely delightful and Totnes certainly brought their inner hippy chicks to the fore in the most endearing manner!

I felt that I was able to escape from lockdown vicariously via this invincible trio and I didn’t want the book to end, despite becoming my own oxymoron, by staying up all night to finish it! Mental note to self, not to start reading the next Judy Leigh blockbuster so close to bedtime!

Please use this link to purchase this great book for yourself:

A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm – Helen Rolfe.

I have read many of Helen Rolfe’s books before and I can honestly say that I have consistently been bowled over by their unique combination of charm and fun. I am therefore looking forward to reviewing this book, with great anticipation, especially since it promises a festive visit to the wonderful Heritage Cove.

I love the way that this book is part of a series. There is something lovely about starting reading a new book anyway, but embarking on a new book in a series (when you have so enjoyed the previous oferrings) is something truly special; a chance to catch up on the lives of much loved characters and the opportunity to meet some more special people. I found myself as desperate as the rest of the cove, for Tilly and Ben to get it together, although I shared Benjamin’s concerns about his parents. I wasn’t sure what to make of Scott and I couldn’t help but worry that he could have something to do with the break in at Tilly’s parents. However, I hoped not, for Tilly’s sake, as she has such a kind heart and I think she would struggle to see the wrong in anyone. There is always something in the old adage though, about things being too good to be true…….

This instalment sees us joining the Heritage Cove residents, in the aftermath of a big storm; many people have had to fork out for repairs to windows and the like, but it seems that the repairs to the Barney’s Barn, a popular wedding venue, were far from superficial, putting the wedding of beloved Cove residents, Melissa and Harvey in jeopardy. I felt the utmost empathy for the to-be-weds

I loved the idea of having the wedding at Benjamin’s parents farm – it sounded idyllic, and a good starter for a new arm to their business. I really hoped that their relationship was also on track. I loved this book – full of unbeatable festive cheer.

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Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

What better way to ease into the coming season, than a festive visit to my old friends in Mermaid Point; I am very much looking forward to revisiting the old characters and perhaps being introduced to some new ones. I did notice the quote on the cover about wanting to move to Mermaids Point, and immediately felt the need to add myself as the next person on the list to make that move – in my dreams! I also noted that the book was dedicated to Jessica Redland, who, alongside Sarah Bennett, is a favourite author of mine. I’m not quite sure why, but this both piqued my curiosity and made me happy – the thought that two of my favourite authors might be friends?

I really felt for Nerissa – the way that she wanted the first Christmas with her ready made family, to be absolutely perfect, but I worried for her – worried that she was putting too much pressure up herself, rather than just letting things be.

I must confess to feeling a little emotional upon reading about Max and Emily’s surprise for Tom and Nerissa – such thought from two youngsters – guaranteed to melt the steeliest of hearts,

I had the upmost empathy for Alex; it seemed as though he would welcome some love in his life, yet is terrified if getting hurt again. Is this what is fuelling his writer’s block. Regardless, I would love to see him to get together with the delightful Ivy, who just oozes ‘special’ from every pore. I cannot forget the way that she helped Tom reunite his children, and Narissa, not only with the repair of their precious childhood keepsake in this book’s predecessor, but with the advent of the memory bear, by which to remember their late Mother. Ivy undoubtedly has the kindest soul. I can’t imagine that there would be too many eligible singletons in a small place like Mermaids Point, so surely she must give Alex a second glance when he visits!? I can live in hope?

I enjoyed this book tremendously, and loved way that it seemed to emit joy through its wondrous, empathetic characters, together with the amazing descriptive language. It may be small in terms of the number of pages, but it was bursting with humour, wonder and delight, bound together with the superglue that is family and embellished with Christmas cheer. Indeed a fly on the wall at the Morgan family Christmas convivialities would surely be getting a front row seat to the most perfect family’s superlative festive celebrations? A point to observe though; the Morgans put paid to any notions of blood being thicker than water, with the all encompassing way that they welcome all comers into their family unit, and treat them as their kin. I must correct myself; not only do I want to live in Mermaids Point, but I would also like to be welcomed into the nurturing arms of the phenomenal Morgan family.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but:

  • Will Jake have an answer for his Mum?
  • Will Alex find love?
  • Has Alex banished Jo from his thoughts for good?
  • Will Narissa overcome her demons, to have the perfect festive season?

In all, this was beautiful book about a group of beautiful people that did not disappoint. It set the scene perfectly for the two further books to come in the series, promised in the Author’s note at the end of the book. Therein lies my only disappointment; but still, 2 more books in the series is far better than none!

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