29 September 2016

Book Review: The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown

"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?"

Rating: 5/5

I'm a big fan of Alex Brown's books so was really pleased when I was sent her new book, a new story in her Tindledale series, The Secret of Orchard Cottage, for review. While this is a book in a series, it works perfectly well as a stand alone so you don't have to have read the others to enjoy this one. This is the story of a widow, April, who decides its time she visited her elderly Great Aunt Edith, who lives along in Orchard Cottage in Tindledale. She only plans on a flying visit, but soon realises that the old lady needs more help than she initially thought, so decides to stay for a while. While she is there, she meets some new friends, some not as new as she thought, and wonders if perhaps Tindledale is the place to help her finally move on...

This was a lovely story from beginning to end, giving hope to anyone who has lost someone very dear to them that life does go on if you allow it to, and that there are many joys in life to still be discovered. I especially loved the close bond that April and Edith have, despite their age gap and the fact they seldom see each other. Edith was a wonderful character; eccentric, full of life and so sweet, I could see why April enjoyed spending so much time with her. I really enjoyed reading about the family secret that Edith has been hiding to do with her long lost sister Winnie, and April is determined to unearth to help her elderly Aunt, it was a real mystery and I loved how it came to be solved, and the actual truth behind it, it was fascinating to read and a great addition to the story.

Orchard Cottage sounds very idyllic when April arrives, even if it is in a state of disrepair due to Edith not really being in a state to look after it herself. The cottage and the orchard sounded very country-village, the perfect place you would want to be on a warm summers day, and I could see why April was so taken with her new surroundings. The inclusion of some lovely local residents certainly helped matters, and the fledgling friendship that April strikes up with a local teenager in desperate need of some guidance was very charming and a delight to read. I loved how Alex Brown found them something in common and built up a trust from that, people are quick to judge teenagers these days but April was able to look past that and see the scared young girl behind the sulky facade.

I loved being back in Tindledale, meeting some of the residents again from the previous books that I have read, but also learning more about Edith, her past and seeing April find some confidence in life again, ready to move on from her all consuming grief at the loss of her beloved husband. For me, though, the best part of this book and its writing were the relationships within, and how we can be satisfied with life due to our relationships with other people, and the many forms they come in. I loved how in this book age, background, beliefs - they just don't matter, people were judged for who they were and friendships sprang up in the most unlikely of places. It was a joy to read, and I can't wait to visit Tindledale again soon, what a delightful book.

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