Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm – Liz Taylorson

This was the first book that I had read by Liz Taylorson, so whilst not knowing what to expect, I was instantly drawn to the book’s front cover, which I found most appealing. I was also amused by the titles of some of the chapters, such as ‘Don’t Get Covered in Sheep Poo’ and ‘Exploring Foreign Lands and All That Bollicks’. It sounded to me as though these chapters were going to be a case of ‘what you see is what you get’.

I immediately warned to Amy and the way that she dealt with the playground Mafia, but her ex Husband James really was a ‘piece of work’ – examples being sounding ridiculous amounts of money on the wrong size new trainers for Harry, and arranging to take Harry to Florida, when Amy herself has always yearned to take him, whilst criticising Amy when the only holiday she can afford is primitive camping in a field the Lake District. I must admit to wanting to hug Amy when she deliberately drove her car over James’ well manicured verge! I did rather feel for Amy; it somehow felt as though the entire world was conspiring against her – School, playground Mafia, tent, the weather, sheep poo, James and Laurie, Darcie-Mae et al. I did like the humour in the book, for example the reading of Swallows and Amazons and (this sound bad) when Harry falls over in the dark, and the not-so-private escapades of the people in the huge motorhome!

James and Laurie together – well, I have no words for what they did, apart from to say that, as a Harry might say, their behaviour towards Amy and Matt was bollicks!

Harry is Amy’s world and she is so utterly selfless. It would have been Amy that would have gone without dinner at the pub, if Matt hadn’t offered to pay, and it was Amy who ended up sleeping on the broken air mattress, after Harry and Oliver had jumped on it one too many times. Harry was quite a complex character, although I’m sure some of that complexity was ,earned from his Father. I did however love Harry’s pragmatic view of the world and events in his life; he did make me chuckle!

I felt quite humbled by the way that Amy had budgeted for her holiday – wondering if she could afford a couple of baked potatoes in the pub. It also made me feel bitter towards James, who seemed full of the fact that he was providing maintenance payments, yet he was holidaying in Florida, whilst Amy was living on the breadline. I accept of course that Amy could work, but such work can be hard to come when you haven’t worked for years, and one needs to earn enough to cover any childcare.

Matt seemed very easy company – a dream come true! He completely won me over whe realised that Amy was broke and quickly worked out a way to buy her and Harry dinner, without embarrassing her. He was just so different from James, it was unbelievable. What a thoroughly decent, nice chap. He does however have a more complicated side to him, not ameliorated by Oliver. Oliver is again complicated, and a little too used to being able to manipulate people to get what he wants. His tears dry up just a little too quickly, once he gets his own way. Harry, whilst getting things wrong at times, is at least blindingly honest; Oliver not so much so.

What is a Peter hiding about the past, that presumably involves Amy’s late Mother?

In all I found this to be a wonderful, uplifting story about family, love and friendship, and about finding out your facts and taking a deep breath, before you react. I really did think that I had the end sussed out, and that perhaps Amy and Matt might take over the old cottage and run the caravan park; it would make for a rather marvellous sequel!

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