Book Review

Book Review : The Summer Season by Julia Williams.

As summertime flourishes, it’s time for new beginnings…

Heartsease House is in desperate need of renovation. Its owner, widower Joel, is struggling to come to terms with life as a single dad. His plans to refurbish the house and garden suddenly seem like one burden too many.

Mum to twin girls, Lauren’s life is a constant juggling act. When her ex Troy turns up she’s determined to keep her distance while he gets to know his daughters. But it’s a lot harder than she imagined …

Then erstwhile guerrilla gardener Kezzie bursts into their lives with her infectious enthusiasm to restore the gardens of Heartsease. But who is Kezzie? And what is she running away from?

As the warm days of summer draw closer, Heartsease House and its beautiful love-knot garden are transformed. But will Joel, Kezzie and Lauren be able to restore their own hearts?

I was sent this book as part of my preparation for the Ladies Who Love day at Bromley Literary Festival, I knew of Julia Williams but I’d never read any of her books so I was curious to see what I made of The Summer Season. The book opens with a map of the village that the book is set in and then a family tree, my interest was definitely piqued and I turned the page eager to start the story.

The plot twists around three main characters, Lauren, Joel and Kezzie. They’ve all got problems in their past that they’re trying to overcome, and in doing this their paths become increasingly intertwined. I liked the way that their stories all overlapped, but they each got a decent storyline of their own – there was no scrimping on story.

Within the main plots there was the story of Joel’s garden, including a knot garden. This had been created by his ancestors and their story was uncovered by the characters, and we got to read it too. I liked the description of the garden and I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Joel’s great-great-grandparents, they fitted seamlessly into the story and added real depth to it.

One of the great things for me about this book was that I enjoyed all three of the main characters. I expected that as there were three there would probably be one I liked less, but that wasn’t the case. I really liked the character of Lauren though at times I did want to shout at her! I definitely felt like she was the kind of person I could become good friends with. I thought Joel was an interesting character, I can’t remember reading a book with a young widower whereas I can think of a number where a wife has lost her husband. I think the fact that all of the characters had their flaws meant that they were all more likeable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a lovely warm-hearted read that left me feeling hugely content when I finished it. It may be the first book I’ve read by Julia Willams but it definitely won’t be the last.

The Summer Season is published in paperback by Avon in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : “Twelve Days of Christmas” by Trisha Ashley.

Christmas has always been a sad time for young widow Holly Brown, so when she’s asked to look after a remote house on the Lancashire moors, the opportunity to hide herself away is irresistible – the perfect excuse to forget about the festivities.

Sculptor, Jude Martland, is determined that this year there will be no Christmas after his brother runs off with his fiancée and he is keen to avoid the family home. However, he will have to return by the twelfth night of the festivities, when the hamlet of Little Mumming hold their historic festivities and all of his family are required to attend.

Meanwhile, Holly is finding that if she wants to avoid Christmas, she has come to the wrong place. When Jude unexpectedly returns on Christmas Eve he is far from delighted to discover that Holly seems to be holding the very family party he had hoped to avoid.

Suddenly, the blizzards come out of nowhere and the whole village is snowed in. With no escape, Holly and Jude get much more than they bargained for – it looks like the twelve days of Christmas are going to be very interesting indeed!

This was my second seasonal read, and I really liked it. The plot is fairly simple and it plods along quite contentedly. I’ve seen other reviewers criticise this book because not a lot happens, I found myself enjoying the book for this very reason. The book is set in a tiny sleepy village full of mildly eccentric characters, I think this is the reason I got so drawn into the book – as a country girl I could really identify with the book.

I enjoyed Holly as a character though I couldn’t always understand her motivations. Partway through the book she suddenly reveals a huge plan for the forthcoming year when she’s on the phone to her best friend, I was completely taken back by this as it came out of nowhere. The character I found the most interesting was Holly’s grandmother, though she only really featured through entries from her diary that Holly was reading.

One slight problem that I did have with the book was with the tenses, a couple of times it seemed that Holly’s narration changed from the past tense to the present tense. This jarred with me, and broke my reading flow. It was a minor thing though and may well have just been a writing style feature that I didn’t appreciate.

I can imagine this book wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea due to its gentle and steady nature but I thoroughly enjoyed it.