You could almost be forgiven you were about to embark on reading some gothic novel about a reclusive women who lives in a cottage on the cliff edge, where strange sounds come from and that local villagers think of as a witch and that the lady is probably a witch.
However what you get with this new novel from Sheila Norton is something much much more and I thoroughly enjoyed the developing friendship between two lonely women across the generations.
Stella lives at Cliff’s End Cottage, it has been her home since she was in her early twenties, now in her eighties, as she is slowing down the cottage is slowly disappearing as the cliff begins to erode, taking part of the cliff face with it often. Everyone thinks she should move, but Stella is determined to stay.
Holly, single mum to the wonderful Maisie, is a freelance journalist and part time cleaner and determined to make her new piece for a magazine stand out she deicides to go out and see this woman at Cliff’s End Cottage. Faced initially with suspicion, a strange respect grows between these two women. With plenty of home made cake and tea made in a teapot, Holly starts to listen to Stella’s story.
As Holly finds out about Stella’s life, so do we, as we are taken back to Stella as a five year old evacuee, with a cockney accent and away from everything she knows. Until she sees the sea and decides that perhaps this is the best place. As Stella grows, she makes friends and decides to take up violin lessons. Those memories of the past are still very much in the present and it seems that the secrets of Stella are not all that they seem.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that you can lose yourself in as the wind batters the rain against the window and you can snuggle down and simply escape. I enjoyed all the strands of the story whether it be past or present and they weaved together nicely. Nothing is shied away from or made light of and it really was an impactful book about how friendships can come and go at any time during your life and that age is no barrier. All friendships can show us lies and truths, coldness and warmth, hate and love and we can learn from them all.
A warm hug of a book for all those that need it.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage is out now.