Emma Davies returns to the blog today with a story full of second chances, hope and realigned expectations in this city girl meets the country story. Please read on for my review of
The Little Cottage on the Hill
Tucked into a corner in Shropshire, the opportunity for Madeline Porter to reclaim her career and succeed at marketing and managing a new and growing corporate retreat site are just what she needs. After a disastrous event in London, and leaving her firm under a cloud, the unexpected and wholly welcome chance to start anew, even in this remote area, is welcome. Yet, the more she discovers, the more the situation becomes fraught with tensions, secrets and an owner who appears to dislike her and her ideas just on principle. No mobile signal, horrible broadband, dogs, dust, dirt, ramshackle outbuildings and a garden that seems to have taken over – her linen and power suits are just not made for this.
Seth, the owner and his crew: Clara the gardener and Tom the thatcher are a tight group – almost secretive in their conversations and Maddie always feels a bit out of the circle. It’s obvious that their friendships are solid, and Maddie thinks that there is something there between Clara and Seth – despite the rather confusing statements from Clara that ‘she owes Seth everything”. When he won’t explain things to her, and the people around him fob her off with a “he’ll have to tell you”, she’s torn between wanting to ‘fit in” and deciding that this isn’t the project for her. And then, slowly she starts to see Seth’s vision for Joy’s Acre, and buoyed up by an off-the-cuff mushrooms on toast and latte, a wi-fi connection and a most unusual barmaid, she’s invigorated and starts to plan. Yes, her ideas are too ‘London’ and far from the vision Seth has, and she’s not happy that every idea she has is shut down, but when she understands (after far too much time in my opinion) the story of Joy’s Acres, the unique history of the farm and repeated ‘we’re meant to be here as different as we all are’ comments from the others all starts to give her a new vision, and the group as a whole some thoughts of how things might be……
Oh the angst and secrets are rife in this one: from Maddie’s own as she left London as a pariah and this job is her ‘chance’ to revise her reputation to the many secrets and sorrows on Seth’s shoulders and his ongoing tug of war with Agatha, a bull-terrier of a woman who is financing the renovations, interested in a return on her money and seemingly nothing else. Clara, the beautiful and talented gardener and her obvious attachment to Seth, and Tom the thatcher, with one foot in the tradition and his handwork, another in the world of bands, music, women and pubs. Lastly there is Trixie, the barmaid who combines a forthright approach to life with a can-do attitude that asks for little more than respect and freedom, and returns so much more. When you add in Bonnie and Clyde, two very friendly and active dogs, Rumpus a marmalade cat with an attachment to Maddie that is unusual (for him) and a budget that is non-existent after Agatha’s heavy-handed demands that aren’t met – they are up against it with just a few weeks to finish one of the cottages and open for business.
Not unlike the first I’d read from Davies (Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found) there is a solid sense of family and community here: in this, the community becomes the four working on the farm, trying to honor it’s unique history as a place of refuge, care and beauty for those who may need it most. Seth’s overwhelming need to make a difference in an effort to assuage guilt, have brought them together: his connection with Clara and his sudden disappearance for a trip to London just as things are moving forward just add more layers to the past and present sense of ‘difference’ that this farm will make for everyone who works there. Solid characters, moments of laughter, poignancy and sadness all surround the farm and the people who are inhabiting and restoring the property, each emotion works to enhance and enlighten them all, but especially Maddie as she comes to feel as if Joy’s Acre, and those who came before, have welcomed her into this little piece of paradise. A lovely story that is engaging, heartwarming and perfect for an escape.
Title: The Little Cottage on the Hill
Author: Emma Davies
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Humor elements, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 19 February, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 25 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google ♦Audible
There’s blossoms in the trees and daffodils as far as the eye can see. Maddie is looking forward to a fresh start in the countryside, but there’s just one little problem…
Following a scandal at her high-flying PR agency, twenty-six-year-old Maddie flees London to help promote what she thinks is going to be a luxurious holiday retreat in the countryside. Everything is riding on her making a success of this new job…
Yet when she arrives, Maddie is horrified to find a rundown old farm in a terrible state. The brooding and secretive owner, Seth, spent all his money on leasing the land when he fell in love with the beautiful, dishevelled farm cottages and the very romantic story behind them.
When Maddie discovers an old painting by the original owner’s wife, she unlocks the secret of the farm’s history and quickly realises she must start getting her hands dirty if this very special place is going to have any chance of survival. As she and Seth begin working together, the stunning view from the top of the hill is not the only thing that’s leaving her breathless…
After weeks of hard work the dream looks like it might become a reality, until a secret from Maddie’s past threatens to snatch it all away again.
Can Maddie find a way to save the business and herself? Will she finally find a place to keep her heart within the crumbling walls of the little cottage on the hill?
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.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: