June 1963, Clematis Cottage, Stoke St. Mary, Herefordshire
I am really not sure why I am writing this. A foolish whim by a foolish old lady and it will probably sit in a box unread and decay much like its writer when Death makes his careless decision.
But perhaps someone will find it. Someone will care enough to read and somehow I know that will happen.
April 2000, Clematis Cottage, Stoke St. Mary, Herefordshire
Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, the love she lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.
Rachel finds ghosts, history, mystery and romance, when she leaves London and escapes to the rural idyll of Herefordshire.
Enchanted by Clematis cottage, she finds all is not what it first appears. When she moves in, drastic renovation is necessary for the bricks and mortar to match up to the cottage’s perfect outlook. Employing the local builders is the only way and they come highly recommended. Gabe is very easy on the eye, he compensates for the dust and the disruption but he is so different from what Rachel’s used to. Will he fit into her ordered world? The passion between Gabe and Rachel simmers, before it boils over but can they learn to celebrate each other’s differences, or are they doomed to crash and burn?
Rachel is determined to make her new life work. The villagers are interesting characters and their interaction is vital to her character’s growth and development. I particularly like Stan and Sheila, who in their different ways, both offer Rachel more advice and encouragement than her own parents.
The cottage’s former owner Hetty, now deceased, has her own story to tell and when a journal and fading letters are discovered, Rachel and the reader are flung back into the early twentieth century and the tragedy and illusions of ‘The Great War’.
Intrigued, Rachel’s tendency to obsess make her determined to find out what really happened in Hetty’s life when the journal and letters leave her with more questions than answers. The sojourn into the past has parallels to Rachel’s present and with some supernatural encouragement she is determined to find out the truth. Rachel’s emotional journey is what makes this a feel good read and the ending is truly magical.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars