Books

Foxglove Farm – Christie Barlow

Six months ago, I discovered Love Heart Lane in the village of Heartcross, a lovely Scottish village which had been at the centre of Christie Barlow’s first novel in what is turning out to be a series. Back with familiar faces and the spectacular scenery of the highlands meant I knew was going to be in for a treat.

I first got to know Isla in the last book and we were all there when cut off from the mainland due to the weather, Isla gives birth with her husband by her side.

However it has not been plain sailing, for Isla since we last met. She feels lonely, her husband Drew is working all the hours on their farm and he seems to be sniping at every opportunity. The strong bond they had seems to be weakening and Isla cannot understand why and Drew will not talk to her.

When the unpredictable weather strikes again at Foxglove Farm all of Isla and Drew’s problems are suddenly in the foremost of the whole communities mind. Like every good community they all pull together and help, with the milking, the lambing and bringing the dreams of Isla to fruition as well as getting Drew, literally back on his feet.

Throw into the mix some alpacas, handsome strangers, criminals and a few old campervans and all of a sudden you have a story that you have to stay with come what may. There are some funny moments that made me chuckle and some beautiful heart rendering ones which made my heart break and sing in equal measure.

Such is the quality of the plotting and the writing that you can be swept away to this little village in the highlands and know that you could fit right in.

Not afraid to tackle some real issues and also to move away from a new romance, a common feature in women’s fiction, the author focuses very much on the romance that is in all good relationships and this book is for anyone who wants to perhaps some more substantial than light and fluffy.

I am excited to learn that there will be another trip back to Heartcross but I am also jealous of anyone who has yet to read this book and the first, you have such a treat awaiting you.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Foxglove Farm is out now. 

Find out where it all started at Love Heart Lane. 

 

Books

Summer at Bluebell Bank – Jen Mouat

Going back to the past is perhaps not always a good idea.

Kate returns to Wigtown, Scotland when her friend from childhood, Emily asks for help. Kate leaves everything behind of new life and goes back to Wigtown, to Bluebell Bank and Emily and her family as that is where she has always felt at home and loved.

But everything has changed.

Emily is very fragile and refuses to talk about the choices she has made and what led her to be back at Bluebell Bank caring for her grandmother, Lena.

Lena is changing by the day as dementia starts to take away the Lena, Kate knew who was able to bring all the family together.

Emily’s brothers, are scattered near and far and an undercurrent is running between them all.

This is not the place Kate thought it was going to be when she returned. Especially when she bumps into Luke, her first love.

This is a book which at first glance you think is going to be a light read, but it isn’t. Aside from dealing with deterioration and care of someone with dementia. We see how alcohol can have an overwhelming effect on family. How paths chosen when it comes to love are not necessarily the right ones and that secrets can lay buried, deep but are there to remind us of our guilt.

It has a strong storyline, but for me there was something missing, I just could not relate to the characters in any way. I was frustrated by them and the buildup to the history between Kate and Emily was rather a let down. The setting was magnificent and I was drawn to the place and the landscape but sadly not the story.

That does not mean this book is not for you – it could well be.

Thank you the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Summer at Bluebell Bank is out now in e-book. 

 

Books

A French Affair – Katie Fforde

Sisters, Gina and Sally inherit a stall from their Aunt Rainey in The French House, an antiques centre in the village in the country. There is nothing remotely odd about this but their aunt leaves them with some conditions to their inheritance.

Included in all this intrigue from beyond the grave, is Matthew the rather grumpy, yet attractive owner who had a great bond with their aunt and finds their presence rather overwhelming. Sally arrives with many creative ideas and can see a very different sort of potential in all these antiques which might not necessarily fit in with Matthew’s antique view. Gina is in PR and knows how to push herself and the product she is selling forward, she can see The French House has a lot to offer the community and becomes deeply involved in it. But is she also unwittingly selling herself as well and becoming deeply involved with Matthew.

Gina is not sure if romance was part of the inheritance that her aunt left her. She finds herself battling not just bringing the antiques centre or in particular Matthew into the modern world way of involving everyone in antiques but dealing with her growing feelings. Can she manage it all and ensure that her future is in safe hands?

This is the latest novel from the wonderful writer Katie Fforde and this transports you away to another world, an antique one. I could imagine this centre with all the wonderful stalls in it, the characters of those with the antiques they sell, mentioned in reference to the main characters in this book, but actually follow up books could quite easily be made of some of them I am sure. I sensed a place that would be cold and damp, with people stood hugging cups of tea with fingerless gloves, trying to keep warm, waiting to see what the next customer would bring or want. Imagine a combination of those antique programmes that litter afternoon and evening television but where you actually get to know more about the people. All this is very much apparent in the novel and I was fascinated by it all and the joy of Forde novels is the way something so seemingly ordinary is weaved into the magic of the story, whether it be cafes, canal boats, markets, shops or in this case antiques.

For all fans of women’s fiction, Katie Fforde is an author whose books you need to know and it does not matter which you discover first!

A French Affair is published in Hardback and Ebook by Century on 28th February 2013.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this review copy.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I only discovered Katie Fforde’s work last year and I am simply enjoying catching up on all she has written. With many more on my shelf please excuse me whilst I pick up another one! They are a great way to spend a weekend and cheer me up when life gets a bit too much!