Escape the rat race by heading to the Yorkshire Moors in Jane Lovering’s funny, warm and magical new novel.
Needing an escape, Dora swapped city living for life as a shepherdess on her grandad’s Yorkshire farm. More than a decade later Dora is still there, now farming the fifty acres and caring for the one hundred rare sheep by herself. She never hears the call of the city, but instead relishes the peace and simplicity of life on the Moors.
When Dora’s glamorous but quarrelsome sister Cass, her teenage nephew Thor and his handsome tutor Nat, turn up for an unexpected and unreasonably long stay, life on the farm is thrown into chaos. Cass brings with her unwelcome memories from the past, and of someone who once stole Dora’s heart.
Dora takes refuge in the comforting routine of the farm, the sheep never allowing her too much time to dwell. But, as the seasons change, the snow starts to melt, and as lambs begin to fill the fields, Dora can’t keep hiding in the hills. Because even though she’s trying, Dora can’t run away from a love that never really let her go…
Let Jane Lovering whisk you away to the beauty and serenity of the Yorkshire Moors, far away from the noise of the city.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story appears simple, but the plot has depth with its character development and insightful exploration of contemporary issues. There are moments of drama, humour and poignancy which resonate. Dora is likeable, and Cass hard to like. By the end, it’s clear that Dora and Cass are both victims of their upbringing and naive life choices. This is a lovely story with interesting characters and a delightful setting.
Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Novel of the Year Award in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home. Her first title for Boldwood will be published in September 2020.
Extract from Home on Folly Farm-Jane Lovering
There are some people whose voices go straight through you, even if you are horizontal with your face in a bucket and your arm in a sheep. My sister’s voice was one of them.
‘What the hell are you doing?’
Yep. Like a steel toecap through slurry.
I hadn’t heard her arrive. The jump it caused me made the ewe struggle against the pressure of my hand. ‘I’m laying lino,’ I said. ‘Obviously.’ I stretched my fingers to their furthest extent, felt the ewe strain with another contraction, and then pushed gently. The lamb’s head popped down into the birth canal.
I would not show how surprised I was to see my sister; I would not.
‘Yeah, but does it have to be here?’
I hadn’t been expecting to see Cass for – ooh, another five years at least, if ever. I suspected there was probably a warning email sitting in my inbox from our mother who, although she could be a little bit distant, wasn’t actively hostile, so she would have tried to prepare me. But I’d been so busy.
I had to work on not gritting my teeth too visibly as I gradually stood up away from the sheep, watched the lamb slither out onto the straw bed of the pen and sneeze, while I tried to think of something to say.
‘Where would you suggest?’ I asked. ‘Benidorm?’
The ewe reached around and began to lick her lamb clean. Job done. I wiped my arm with the handful of straw that I realised I was clutching as though it were a stand-in for my sister’s neck.
‘Well, surely, the vet does that sort of thing?’ Just on the edge of vision I could see Cassandra sitting down on a bale of hay, carefully folding her long legs up into a yoga pose, calculated to make me look even more graceless in my practical but unglamorous farming wellingtons and amniotic-stained jeans. ‘I thought you were going out with the vet, anyway – would he not do you mates’ rates? And your arm is disgusting. Don’t you have hot water and a towel? Like in James Herriot?’
I sighed and climbed up and out over the metal hurdles that formed the lambing pen. ‘No. And, yes, I was going out with Chris, but we split up six months ago. I did tell you I was having my heart broken, but you were probably, I dunno, getting a bikini wax or something.’
Cass tossed her hair, which she did more often than a dog groomer having a good clear out.
‘A bikini wax is more painful than heartbreak,’ my sister said firmly. ‘And more frequent. Heartbreak you don’t get every eight weeks from a perma-tanned sadist with acrylic nails.’
I thought about Elvie, who ran the local riding stables and who had, so I’d found out, been keeping Chris entertained, on and off, for much of the past couple of years. ‘Oh, I don’t know.’
‘Not that you’d know, anyway,’ Cass finished, looking me over as though she could see my pubic hair creeping its way up out through the waistband of my jeans and attempting to coat my torso.
‘There’s not much time for that sort of thing,’ I replied tartly. ‘What with the rare-sheep breeding and all, it’s surprising I can find time to fit in my massage sessions and the weekly blow-dry.’
My hair was currently scraped into a ponytail and had hay tangled in it, so I didn’t think the usual sarcasm alert was necessary, but I hadn’t considered Cass.
‘You should sue.’ She looked me over again. ‘I hope they aren’t charging you for that updo.’ Then she looked at her own hands. ‘I get a discount,’ she said smugly. ‘They stamp this little card for you, and every ten visits you get a free gel polish.’
I took a deep breath. She was as out of place in the creaky old stone barn as I would be – well, getting a gel polish. ‘Why are you here, Cass? I wasn’t expecting you. Did you bring Hawthorn?’
‘He’s my son, of course I brought him – what did you think I’d do with him?’
I was tempted to say I would have expected her to have dumped him on Mum and Dad, much as she’d done on many occasions since he was born, but I didn’t say it. There wasn’t the time for an argument; I had eighty-five recently-lambed ewes to feed.