Monday 21 December 2020

Guest Review: The Dandelion Years by Erica James

'Someone had made a perfect job of creating a place in which to hide a notebook . . . there was no address, only a date: September 1943 . . .'
Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling cottage on the edge of a Suffolk village, it provided a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.
Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a hidden notebook - and realises someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own - Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.

Review: As a fan of Erica James’ writing, I have been steadily working through her backlist of published novels. They always draw me into the world of the characters depicted, no matter when or where they are set. This book was no exception. I was quickly hooked by the story, or I should say stories, as there are two distinct tales here, one in the present time and the other in the past.

The central character here is Saskia Granger, who has lived with her father and two grandfathers in a lovely Suffolk cottage since a tragedy robbed her of her mother and the men of their wives. The family has always been involved with books: her father is a bookseller while she is now a book restorer. A job she and her father undertake to value the book collection of a deceased professor leads her to the discovery of a hidden notebook telling a true story of wartime romance and tragedy. It also brings her into contact with Matthew, who has inherited the said books. Saskia’s initial dislike of Matthew begins to turn to friendship, but will it go any further as they unearth the mysteries in the secret notebook?

I really enjoyed this beautifully written story of family and love, spanning two time periods. Erica James has presented the reader with some wonderful characters and situations. I found most of the characters likeable and believable, and I loved the slightly unconventional family group to which Saskia belongs; the banter between the grandads in particular lends a touch of comedy to the book. The story within a story, written during the Second World War and entitled ‘The Dandelion Years’ by its author to reflect the fragile nature of life at that time was very moving. However, the present day relationship between Saskia and Matthew was quite different. They seemed to be forced together by Saskia’s family and their shared interest in The Dandelion Years rather than grow to like each other and, much as I wanted them to, I wasn’t sure if they would ever become a couple. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to other readers; there are two stories for the price of one after all, both written by the very talented Erica James.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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