Julie Houston comes the blog with a story of secrets, family and second chances all sparked by an idea from an abandoned farm and the story of its ill-fated history in
Coming Home to Holly Close Farm
Charlie (Charlotte) loved her life in London, working as an architect and project manager, her loving boyfriend, posh flat and the brash, flash and glamor of the city – until she didn’t. The firm she worked for was owned by her boyfriend’s wife and father-in-law, the apartment was not his, the money she’d spent to go ‘half in’ on the rent was used for her boyfriend’s kids treats and the five bin bags are all packed outside the door. Having pushed off her friends for her relationship and work, her only opportunity is to return to her parents’ home in Yorkshire, where she discovers her paternal grandmother diva-ing it up while her flat is under renovation, her younger sister back home after being sacked from her ‘air hostess’ job, her mother more interested in her own pottery creations and her veterinarian father in and out only to return with odd smells clinging and a general air of ‘absentmindedness’ about him. She’s got no interest in being home -planning a week to settle and find a new position and flat in London, certain that her ex will call with huge plans of reconciliation and requiring her back immediately.
But no one figured on her maternal great-grandmother Madge, and a huge secret that she had to share that also involved a small abandoned farm, a wartime romance, a chance for both Charlie and her sister Daisy to take first steps into their own careers – Charlie to project manage and design the renovations of the newly-sold farm an a cottage expansion left to her and her sister – as Daisy managed the landscape design. Of course with the house comes the story of how it came to be, with a few faded photographs behind a locked wardrobe drawer at Madge’s cottage, the secrets are coming to light, slowly, as Madge shares her history, her wartime work and the tales of her life, including the death of her husband Arthur. In between all of this, we have Daisy finding a new romance in one of the builders, a quick fling for Charlie with a boy she crushed on in lower sixth form and the subsequent unmasking of his ‘wild parties’, a comatose badger and a man who keeps popping up and looking positively yummy.
Oh this was a fun one, from insets of moments that are positively hilarious to the rather more sobering choices (or lack of them) offered to Madge as a young woman, the tragedy of Arthur and the story of James, and how all of the pieces came together, not always neatly, to tell the tale. From the outrageous grandmohers, Vivienne the ‘artiste’ and Nancy the ‘snob’, to the utter inability for any of these women to actually MAKE a meal (and referring to sprouts as soggy green bastards!), not to mention their long suffering father and his realization that they had stuffed a comatose badger with two broken legs into his shed, the story doesn’t get mired in the ‘tragic’ moments, or even allow anyone to actually wallow in sadness – with hysterically funny moments of utter outrageous behavior, unadulterated love and a penchant for show tunes to illustrate a moment.
Title: Coming Home to Holly Close Farm
Author: Julie Houston
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Setting: Britain
Published by: Aria
Published on: 5 February, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents. Charlie's sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun.
Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.
As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family's history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm. A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerges, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too...
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.