25 April 2016
Book Review: Wickham Hall by Cathy Bramley
As Holly falls in love with the busy world of Wickham Hall - from family weddings to summer festivals, firework displays and Christmas grottos - she also finds a place in her heart for her friendly (if unusual) colleagues.
But life isn’t as easily organised as an event at Wickham Hall (and even those have their complications…). Can Holly learn to let go and live in the moment? After all, that’s when the magic happens…"
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Someone who is fast becoming one of my must-read authors is Cathy Bramley. I've read all of her books to date, and was lucky enough to be sent a review of her latest book Wickham Hall. Cathy's books are usually released as a four-part serial in eBook format, but I prefer to sit and read the entire thing as a normal book, that way if I get lost in the story I don't have a long wait until the new part is out! The cover for this book is stunning, and I excitedly started to read it, and of course thought it was utterly brilliant!
Holly Swift has landed on her feet by getting her dream job as events organiser at Wickham Hall, the local manor home close to where she grew up. Holly has dreamt of working there since she was a young girl and used to attend events there with her mother, and now she is organising these events herself. She's able to put on festive activities, firework displays and even hosting famous chefs, and is getting to know her new colleagues too. However, things aren't plain sailing, and when the son of Lord and Lady Fortescue suddenly arrives back at the hall, Holly struggles to get along with him and keep him happy. Is the dream job Holly always dreamed of becoming the job of nightmares?
One thing that I always know I am going to get when I read one of Cathy Bramley's novels is a wonderful story, and a cast of characters that I love. Each of her books so far have been brilliant, and the stories have really come to life from the pages as I am reading. This was certainly the case with Wickham Hall, I very quickly got lost in Holly's world, and couldn't put the book down once I had begun. Holly was the narrator of the book, and I really enjoyed reading about her passion for her job and Wickham Hall. Event organising isn't really my cup of tea, but Holly made the job sound so interesting and challenging, and it was fun to read about how much goes into planning these big public events.
The other main characters in the book are Ben Fortescue, son of the owners of Wickham Hall, and someone who stops Holly's life being easy! He was a great character though, somewhat determined to not inherit the hall and follow in his father's footstep and instead pursue his own passion.He was quite a fun character, injecting some humour into Holly's life and the story, and I really enjoyed his presence. Another main character was Holly's mum, who is battling her own demons. I thought the relationship between the pair was so sweet and touching, Holly is very protective and caring towards her mother, and as this story progressed and things happen for the pair, I felt very warm and happy inside, it was so well written, and I thought Bramley tackled the issues Holly and her mum are facing with discretion and care, really helping you to understand why her mother is as she is.
The last thing I want to comment on was the setting of the book itself, Wickham Hall. I enjoy visiting stately homes, and am lucky enough to live somewhere where we have lots of things like this around, and this helped me picture the hall in all its glory vividly as I was reading. Bramley beautifully describes everything from the rooms, to the garden, kitchen and the events so well, and I really wished I could be present at the events, especially the Christmas grotto which sounded so magical, and just my cup of tea! The book is quite long at 500 pages, but at no point did I think it was dragging or that I was bored, there was something to keep me interested at every point! I love Bramley's story-telling ability, her characters, her setting and the way she allows the reader to get emotionally invested in the story. It was a brilliantly heart-warming and joyous read, and I cannot wait for more from Cathy Bramley!