What does an Ethel look like? No point in asking Ettie, as she most definitely didn’t look like one, despite her Mother’s best efforts!
I loved the main characters from the start of the book – Dominic and Gracie were about to start bringing things together for their hotel, with Ettie’s help. It seemed as though each of the three eclectic characters was hiding something though:
Dominic – the truth behind his divorce and the accident where he broke his leg. Why is he so dead set against anyone wild swimming in his lake!
Gracie – seems very lonely; what does she really want from the hotel project?
Ettie – encouraging locals to swim in the lake when Dominic is not around, and swimming herself, despite knowing that Dominic will not be happy about it. Why did she HAVE to drop out of school?
As Dominic and Ettie’s ’friendship’ thrives, are they getting serious about each other, despite Ettie being the first to protest that this is in no way the case? What will happen when Dominic finds out that Ettie has been going behind his back, by arranging regular swimming sessions for the group of swimmers that have unwittingly become her friends?.
Meanwhile the hotel is working its magic on the swimming group, with the members ’growing’ organically, as work on the hotel progressed and as potential new activities were discovered for future guests. I loved the loyalty and cohesiveness of the swimming group, and how they rapidly became that way, particularly with regard to amputee Josh. Such was the dynamic between this diverse group of people, that I found myself wanting to dive on into the pages of the book (were that even remotely possible), in order to join this wonderful group of people, every one of whom proved that its never too late to change yourself, your life and your own ’part’ and journey within that story.
This story certainly did make one look at oneself with a healthy critique, and give life to the idea of change for the positive. We could all no doubt benefit from some kind of combination of a Dominic, a Gracie, an Ettie and a Grandad in our life. What a wonderful book that consumed me from start to finish – and no sooner had I finished, then I felt compelled to start again, just in case I had missed something. In fact I was so gripped by this book that I felt myself wanting to jump into my nearest lake for a dip – just momentarily mind, until I remembered that I hate swimming and I especially loath cold water!
I admired Star from when I first ’met’ her. I liked the way that she followed her heart and did what she wanted to do. She was lucky that her family stood by her, whatever she decided; the exact opposite to the way that Finn’s family behaved. I really did find it impossible to bear – the fact that when Fin was jilted at the altar, all his family could do was blame him! Conversely, surely a sign of what a good person he was, Finn was more than ready to forgive Elise, his intended and indeed to give his blessing to her new relationship. My only thought outstanding was to why Elise had let the wedding plans get so far!
My main thoughts when Star and Fin meet up again after the nom wedding, are of relief. There had clearly been chemistry between them, when Fin used to buy coffee from her every morning before work. Now the pair gave met up again, there is hope for a friendship at the very least, but hopefully for more than that.
Fate did seem to an extent to be playing a hand in any hope of a relationship between Star and Fin, and not in a good way, so I found myself so hoping that the tides of fate would turn in a more positive direction for them both.
I was thrilled when the two heroes of the book seemed to get it together and I loved how their relationship developed – how it kind of blossomed and matured, like a fine wine. I enjoyed how Star loved anything Scottish and I could but concur with her on liking the Scots accent; I found myself continuously imagining a Scot talking about ’The dog’s danglies’, once I had seen it in print once!
It seemed ironic – not only were Star and Fin complete opposites, but there parents were complete opposites too. Star’s liberal, loving parents could not be further from Fin’s selfish, egotistical parents. I would almost go as far (in my non professional opinion!) of accusing Fin’s Father of being mentally ill! Imagine – causing a ruckus at Fin’s new office, when his own Father had in actual fact sacked him from the family law firm!
Alec was the most amazing, protective friend of Star; I liked the way that Star’s happiness and wellbeing was at the forefront of his thoughts. We all deserve an Alec in our lives.
This book had me gripped from start to finish; I really loved it, although I was sad in parts.
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I love Shari Lowe’s books and in particular I loved the prequels to thisq book.
i enjoy books about strong women and this book is full of them, with arguably the strongest character participating from beyond the grave.
Having started the book, I am happy that it feels that the characters are as tenacious as ever – as if they have never been away. However, in the interest of those who haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, I am starting anew. The start of the book is in fact pretty startling, with Carly depicted locked up in a Los Angeles jail. It’s bad enough being locked up at all, but the thought of being in a foreign jail (albeit in a fully 3rd party one) is pretty terrifying. The big question on my lips is whether or not Carly’s ‘new’ (can an 18- month Husband possibly be considered new in LA?) Husband Sam will stand by her not?
Carly had recently left her 2 teenage Sons in London with their Father for a year and one of the items on their emergency list was ‘what to do if one of them got arrested! What to do if Carly got arrested came nowhere on the tongue in cheek list!
I loved the concept of this book – a group of 4 old friends, completing a bucket list of items in honour of a late friend. Having read the previous books in the series further concreted the idea if a really strong friendship in my mind, able to overcome anything, even being arrested!
I enjoyed the book from start to finish, my only regret being that I didn’t take the time to reread the previous books in the series first.
Will the women complete their bucket list of tasks?
Will they get out of jail without charge?
Will their friendship withstand everything they go through to complete that bucket list.
This book was cleverly written and included moments (other than cowpat-gate) that were kind of funny, yet twinged with an underlying sadness, a kind of multi layering of emotions, an example being when Emily’s crotch repair didn’t hold, during her first yoga session. The moment started off as funny, and morphed into sadness, due to the fact that Emily was embarrassed by bullies essentially; what had been an initially funny moment ultimately plunged into the realms of awful, when one discovers how frugally Emily has lived her life after her Husband left her for another woman, never helping out with the children – explaining why she had ’made do’ with the crotch repair in the first place! Her Sons sound awful, relying on her for everything and I could see why she might need time away from them. I will however confess to a bit of a tea spurting out moment however, when the corporate team stating rapidly abandoned their boss at the spa, after they thought he had been shot in a terrorist incident, after an unfortunate episode with the cork from an illicit bottle of champagne!
Lars – what can I say about Lars, apart from the fact that I think we would all benefit from a massage by Lars!
Serena could not ask for better support than she got in Stevie and Robin. If you could somehow combine the role of wing men and Fairy God Father, then that would personify them – or would it? They do have a truly kind of ethereal quality to them – and come to think of it, do they they get any mentions from anyone else, other than as ’the guys who stole Bridgette’d suite.
I began to wonder whether the spa really did have some kind of magical power with the way that it made the friends look at themselves and their relationships. There must surely be something special about a place that makes you realise you have problems, when you didn’t realise you had any, and then empowers you to do something about it. I loved the symbolism and empowerment in this book, for example when Bridgette discards her swimsuit to go skinny dipping with Norman – surely a bit of a two fingered salute to her Husband and his demands that she should ‘return home immediately’! I loved the way that the characters in this book were still able to play the trump card of surprise – demonstrated most ably by Hugo, Bridgette’s Husband.
The Friends all seem to be having an absolute ball, in the grips of the spa, but can the alchemy last forever? The tenacious four seem to have gone from strength to strength, in the bosom of the spa, but will its hold have to decrease eventually?
I struggle to get the balance between telling you enough about this ’must read’ book, for you to want to read it for yourself, and giving too much away……..so I hope that I have whetted your appetite enough, to make this wonderful read YOUR latest ’must read’.
My first impressions of Maggie are that she has given a lot of thought to this career move, and she is fully prepared to give it her all. As to why she has chosen this bold move on a personal level, we are initially none the wiser, but she does evoke pain – I feel she has been hurt on a personal level.
Charlie seems a little gruff and guarded at first. He clearly loves the island and he may have been hurt from more than one angle – from a romantic perspective and by something someone has done either to or from the island.
Both Maggie and Charlie are introduced to us, the readers, in a somewhat broken form. I just hope that somehow being on the island together will instigate some kind of healing, although I should imagine that the first step towards healing, is actually recognising that there is an issue. I’m not convinced, during these first chapters, that our intrepid heroes have actually made that distinction yet.
As for the island, I must confess that it reminded me to an extent, of Brownsea Island in Poole harbour, where I spent many days on Brownie outings in my youth. Reading this book evoked many happy memories of those days, together with the not so happy memories of being bitten (it felt like to within an inch of my life, to ten year old me) by insects, leaving the most impressive (in terms of size, redness and itchiness) souvenirs.
The island does sound remote, but it also feels as though it has something special to offer to those who grow to love it. Can Maggie and Charlie find the panacea to their distinct personal issues, in this wonderful place?
I have tried not to give too much away, but regardless of what may or may not happen (or have happened in the past) to Charlie and Maggie, you cannot fail to be blown away by the descriptions of this beautiful Brownsea-esque island (akin to Brownsea, it even has its own population of red squirrels!) Just take 5 minutes out of your day, close your eyes and take yourself off to the island, breathing in the sounds and smells. You will invariably feel better for it. We all deserve this kind of place and Victoria Walker’s intelligent, fun loving writing has gifted us Bramble Bay.
Please use the link below the buy this blockbuster book for yourself, and to have the opportunity find out more about the magical Bramble Bay.
Gianna Pascoe comes across as a woman who knows what she wants, and at the age of 39, she is not afraid to stand up to her Mother, when it comes to arranging her 40th birthday party. I liked that she stood up for herself, without resorting to being rude or mean. I really did like Gianna, but I did feel for her, regarding the mental health issues she was having. Basically she seemed a kind soul to me, evidenced by the way that she would sometimes buy the works of struggling artists, showing in her gallery, in order to boost their confidence. Gianna may have been spoiled by her parents in the past, but she was hellbent on paying her own way now, partly funded by the gallery and partly by her paintings as the mysterious Rainbow Painter. Herself, Gianna seems quite captivated by the renowned artist Isaac Benson, but is most definitely not ’over’ her ex, Oliver. I did however feel for Gianna, when it transpires that Oliver has had a child with another woman.
A character not lacking in confidence however, is Gianna’s Father, but Gianna is fairly adamant that she isn’t going to allow him to volunteer to be a model for her life drawing class! I did like the light heartedness that this episode brought, not only to the book, but also to the reader’s perception of Fred Gribble and his overall relationship with Gianna.
Will Gianna’s new life drawing classes help her get out of the rut into which she seems to have fallen? Prepare to be entertained!
You will have to read on yourself to find out, with an abundance of emotions along the way.
I already know that Hollie and Jake are the most endearing pair, both individually and as part of a couple, but I am looking forward to meeting some more new characters. In fact, such is my fondness for ’Hake’ as I shall call them herein, that I had thought we were on at least book three by now!
I loved the descriptive language in the book – even the simple things such as setting the early morning scene on the Starfish Cafe terrace. These words made me wish that I could jump into the pages of a book at will, Jumanji style. Were that to be a reality, my very first stop would be that terrace at the Starfish Cafe, to breathe in the cool, early morning sea air.
Hollie had been through so much in such a relatively short life, that it really broke my heart every time Jake was called out as lifeboat crew; she had already lost so much to that life boat, and I hate to think what might flash though her mind on those occasions. She was pretty amazing for just holding things together – at least in public. Having been brought up by the seaside, I understand the concept of having ’sea in your blood’ and I sincerely hoped that Hollie would fulfil the lifeboat captain’s prediction of her becoming their first crew member. Will Jake have any thoughts on the matter? Indeed, if Hake were to have children surely only them would be able to crew at any one time? I really felt for Hollie, when her cave was trashed; who would do something like that? Sebastian Smythe had motive, but would he stoop so low?
I really felt for Tori upon first meeting her – I cannot imagine being scared to have lunch with my in-laws, worrying about what I looked like and what I was wearing, at 38 years of age! Surely her Partner, Leyton, should be standing up for her. Frankly I felt very little for Leyton (even before he is unmasked as a liar) as he should be able to stand up for himself at forty years old – but then his parents having a controlling interest in the business he runs, clearly doesn’t help matters! I could clearly see why Leyton’s rude petulance (no doubt a behaviour learned from his Father), was beginning to wear Tori down, especially when combined with the behaviour of his parents.
I must confess to being rather intrigued upon being fed the titbit that Tori used to live in a castle with her parents. I thought that Tori was a strong character, too strong to put up with Leyton’s behaviour and I felt certain that she would flourish wherever she ended up. Tori’s formative years proved to be most interesting to an outsider like me, but must have been excruciating awful for her at the time. You will of course need to read the book for yourself to find out just how awful those early years were for Tori; all I will say is that their story exemplifies Jessica Redland’s unparalleled imagination!
Finlay was an interesting character, whom I thought showed tremendous strength, for holding things together, considering what he was going through in his life. After he unburdened himself to Tori, I hoped they could be friends. In actual fact, they’d be the perfect romantic match – he can’t have children, and she doesn’t want any children of her own.
I love a bit of intrigue and my curiosity was most certainly piqued by the snippet that Tori had some kind of fall out with her castellan parents. I’m not sure what interests me most – why Tori fell out with them, or how they came to live in a castle. Tori seems loyal to her friends, I can only imagine some kind of catastrophic break up. I was saddened by the story of Tori and Ewan, as is seemed that deep down they did still love each other. What a tragic story! Fascinatingly, Tori and Hollie’s lives start to become intertwined; I felt that they would be good friends.
I like that Jessica writes about strong female characters and I hope that this strength mirrors her own strength. Similarly I adore the way that she cleverly cross pollinates the characters in her books – to that end I was thrilled to come across Charlee and her chocolate shop again, despite the circumstances in which Charlee turns up in this book. (If you haven’t read about Charlene’s foray into chocolate, I do wholeheartedly recommend it https://eatwell2015.wordpress.com/2021/10/24/christmas-wishes-at-the-chocolate-shop-jessica-redland/ ) Indeed this book was crammed full with new, complex characters, before taking into account characters we have met before.
Why is ‘Slippy Smythe’ so keen to get his hands on the Starfish Cafe?
Is there any truth in the legend of Tingler’s Treasure?
What happened to Tori’s parents, seven years ago? What secret was Phipps keeping?
As you can tell, I loved this book with its amazing sense of community. I loved the way that the mosaic in the ’new’ cafe symbolised Hollie’s cafe journey, and the new design for the cafe just seemed so right. Tori’s family were amazing and I liked how she became so accepting of their quirks. Most beguiling was the do they/don’t they question hanging between Finlay and Tori.
This story really captured my imagination, with its real yet enticing characters. I found myself wanting to be part of their world.
I am so looking forward to the next instalment in Tori and Finlay’s story, and perhaps a ’Hake’ wedding, although I profess to some sadness at the next book being the last in the series.
When we first meet Molly, she is wearing an itchy bunny costume, for an Easter Egg hunt. Volunteering to do this sums up to an extent, the kindness of Molly and she immediately endeared herself to me, by the way that she checked that there were no small children around, before she removed her hot, prickly bunny head and threw it into the road. what a shame she didn’t think to look out for vehicles though!
Molly loves Cranbridge and it seems as though she wouldn’t ever want to live anywhere else – but I get the impression that she is missing something in her life – be it on a professional level or on a more personal front. Although she enjoys her job, she would rather be baking cakes, and her love life is lacking somewhat. She also feels that her friends have somewhat taken her over in The Game of Life; all either married or at least settled with a partner and all in seemingly dream jobs. It’s not without reason that Molly has started to feel the odd one in her group of friends.
Logan seems an interesting chap; a potential love interest for Molly? But what is it about his past that he doesn’t like others talking about? It all adds a bit of mystery to the book. It seems that Molly is the only person (apart from us readers), oblivious to Logan’s woes, but her new ’friend’ isn’t going to start filling her in on his misfortune. I felt sad that Logan prefers his own company to that of others and even sadder that he doesn’t really trust anybody. He knows he isn’t going to let himself down! Olivia adds another element of mystery to proceedings. Is Molly being too soft, giving her a chance? Is Molly too trusting, compared to Logan’s lack of trust? Is there a happy medium?
I liked the humour in the book – for example When Amber is teasing Molly about bridesmaids dresses. This book is very cleverly written – the way that Molly’s group of friends seem so down to earth. The writing almost makes them pop out of the book at you, and personally I started to feel part of it – as though I actually knew them, and was party to the group’s inner secrets. ’Dodgy Del’ always made me laugh too, although I think he was well intentioned – for the most part, at least!
A friendly face did appear, in Geoff, a former school teacher of Molly’s. I did find myself wondering if he could possibly hold the key to dragging Molly’s Mum out of the dark pit into which she had fallen? It certainly felt as though Stanley and Geoff might join forces to try and bring Rachel, Molly’s Mum out of herself a little.
I loved that Molly’s group of friends were so strongly behind her creating a tea garden for a month, in the hope of realising her ultimate dream of opening the eatery on a more permanent basis. The plans gradually start to come to life, but with far more of a community slant, which feels so much more appropriate for such a close-knit village.
If nothing else came out of this story than to encourage people to stand up for themselves and to believe in themselves, like Molly, then it is an assured success. Indeed it felt to me as though Molly saw a little of a reflection of herself in Olivia, which must surely count as a success in itself, as she encouraged the younger woman to be more confident.
The initial opening of the tea garden was less than satisfactory, but can Molly turn this situation around? Molly has such amazing friends and neighbours, that if anyone can help guide Molly to her happy ever -afters – on a professional level, as well as on a personal level, they can, although particular mention should be made of Logan (who of course has no romantic interest in Molly at all!) and Ben and Adam, Molly’s dear twin Brothers.
Eventually, as is par for the course, everything is actually on track to do well. What could possibly go wrong…..
You will of course need to read on for yourself to find out how these particular rabbits are pulled from the hat.