Saturday 9 July 2016

Book Review - The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown

Amazon UK
Title: The Secret of Orchard Cottage
Author: Alex Brown
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 2nd June 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

April Wilson is wondering what to do next – her life has been turned upside down after the loss of her husband so she’s hoping to piece herself together again with a visit to her elderly great aunt, Edith. Arriving in the rural idyll of Tindledale, she’s dismayed to find Edith’s cottage and the orchards surrounding it in a sorry state of disrepair. Edith seems to have lost interest completely, instead she’s become desperate to find out what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared during WWII.
April gets to work immediately, discovering that the orchard still delivers a bumper crop each year, and with the help of some of the villagers – including Matt, the enigmatic Farrier – begins to unravel the mystery of the missing Winnie. Slowly,
April can feel things coming to life again – but can Orchard Cottage work its magic on her too?

This is the long awaited third book in the Tindledale series, and is almost certainly the best book that Alex Brown has written. It is a much welcome return to the village of Tindledale and catching up with some of the villagers from the previous books, as well as a whole new set of characters to love. 

This though can easily be read as a standalone, so don't worry if you haven't read any before, this is a self contained story, the characters from the previous book are mentioned in passing, but not in any way to make you feel you have missed out by not reading the first two books....although you have because they are fabulous!

With the exception of the prologue, I found the book was unputdownable. I read it in 5 hours, with just a couple of short breaks to re-get myself comfortable (and eat dinner). If you are looking for a book to take your mind off your own real life for a while, then this is a great story to that with. 

I was drawn into a set of truly remarkable characters lives. There is April who is trying to get her life back together 18 months after her husband died, her step daughter Nancy who is a lovely young woman, her great aunt Edie who is central to the story. Unfortunately at the age of 90, Edie is starting to get confused and is living in the past more and more, and keeps mistaking April for her long lost sister Winnie. 

April is asked to find out what happened to Winnie all those years ago, and its not any easy task, but I'll just say you will probably never guess the truth. Then there are two men in Tindledale who are attracted to April, Harry the fruit farmer who we meet in a hilarious first meeting, and Matt who we get occasional chapters from his point of view. 

There are a whole host of sensitive issues in this book, between dealing with old age, to a young girl who is having trouble at school, to various happenings in World War 2. If like me you aren't the biggest fan of history, then don't worry this is not a dual timeline story and the history bits are short and fit very well into the story, especially when you can see parallels between Winnie and April. 

If you like your women's fiction with a touch of mystery, or a are fan of this author, or generally just curious about the book, make sure you read it, the writing is superb, and its the sort of book where you will end up with "just one more chapter" syndrome, only to find yourself finishing the story when you should be in bed already, like me!

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