Wednesday 8 September 2021

Guest Review: Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster

Buying a thatched cottage in the country may not be the usual cure for a broken heart. But after Clara Maxwell finds out her boyfriend and best friend have been sneaking around behind her back, packing her bags and leaving everything in London behind feels like it's the only way forward.

Clara knew Acorn Cottage would be a fixer-upper... Yet in person, the cottage is less charmingly ramshackle and more a real health and safety concern. When Henry Garnett, her (rather handsome) new contractor, turns up with his little daughter Pansy and a van shaped like a cottage in tow, she isn't sure whether to laugh or cry. What on earth has she gotten herself into?!

Still, there is something strangely lovable about the people in the little village of Merryknowe, from Rachel Brown, the quiet, lonely girl who bakes magical confections for the tearooms, to Tassie McIver, a little old lady with a lot of wisdom and a penchant for reading tea leaves. And Clara can't deny that Henry and Pansy are quickly worming their way into her heart...

With all the heartbreak of the year behind her, could Acorn Cottage be the fresh start Clara so desperately wants?

Review: I am unfamiliar with this author’s books, but the appealing cover on this one had me keen to find out what the story was behind the lovely cottage and garden pictured there. I was delighted to find that I could borrow the audiobook format from my local library and enjoyed spending a few hours listening to the story. It proved to be a tale that quickly drew me in and left me missing its characters once I had finished.

The central female character, Clara Maxwell, has found out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend, and on impulse buys a cottage in the country without viewing it first. Having resigned from her job as bank manager, she packs up and sets off for the Wiltshire village of Merryknowe and Acorn Cottage. Unfortunately, the cottage and indeed the village proved to be rundown and in need of some serious renovation. However, Clara soon makes some friends in the village, including young Rachel Brown, who with her mother runs the bakery and tearoom, and elderly retired teacher Tassie McIver, who has an air of magic and mystery about her and seems to know all that is going on in the village. Of course, the most important new acquaintance is handsome Henry Garnett, who turns up with his young daughter Pansy to repair and rethatch her roof, but turns out to be able to mend more than that, perhaps even Clara’s broken heart.

I very much enjoyed this light and easy to read story and would recommend the book to others looking for a few hours of escapism. The story contains both humour and tragedy at points, and does contain descriptions of domestic violence. The author has created some interesting characters for her story. I thought Clara a very kind and caring person and admired how she took everyone under her wing without appearing too controlling; I was surprised though, with her professional background, that she would buy a property on the internet site unseen. However, Henry, although a skilled workman, seemed a little irresponsible when it came to his parental duties. I did like old Tassie, but couldn’t quite believe in her abilities to predict the future. Merryknowe sounded a nice little place to live, and the bakery/tearoom in particular would be somewhere I would like to visit; I’d love to view Clara’s cottage once it had been given a new life.

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