Guest post and review: The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson

By | April 28, 2015

Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future? 

Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that, one day, she’d swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher’s – she just didn’t expect it to be so soon. 

At the reading of her mother’s will, she’s shocked to learn that she hardly knew Rosamund at all, and that inheriting St Christopher’s hangs on one big – and very inconvenient – condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn. 

Caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair walk in Rosamund’s footsteps and read her letters at each breathtaking new place. As Grace slowly uncovers the truth about her mother’s incredible life story, Alasdair and Grace can’t help but question their own futures. Will Rosamund’s madcap scheme go to plan or will events take an unexpected turn? 

An emotional, fun-filled and adventurous journey of a lifetime. 

I’ve recently had the immense pleasure of catching up with The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson: the kindle version has been around since February of last year, but now everyone can read it because it was also published as a paperback by Choc Lit on 7th April. I’m rather ashamed that I left it unread on my kindle for so long – it was the loveliest read and touched me deeply. You’ll find my review below, but first I’d like to welcome author Melanie Hudson to Being Anne to talk about the books that have found a special place in her heart. Over to you Melanie…

Have you ever read a book that was so special to you, so memorable, that you know it will stay deep within your heart for time eternal? I once read a quote on Twitter that really summed this feeling up. It read, ‘Sometimes, a book is so special that you carry it around for months after you have finished, just to stay near it.’  Although I don’t specifically remember carrying a physical book around with me on finishing, I do know that certain books I have read have touched me so deeply and struck such a chord, that I carry them around in my heart constantly as treasured possessions. 

So I thought it might be rather nice to share my treasured possessions with you, or some of them, at least. As I’m a tad obsessive, I have read every one of these stories over and over and over again, because they have touched me in that place that some authors sometimes, without trying too hard, just reach. Some you may know, some you may not. Here they are …

As a child I would hook the curtain around the radiator and read by the glow of the streetlight. There are two books from my childhood that I read over and over again before, bizarrely, I became obsessed with Agatha Christie (borrowed from the mobile library in large print so that I could read more easily by the minimal lamplight). The first will come as no surprise – Anne of Green Gables. Anne has been the single most important influence in my life – fact. I wasn’t an orphan (far from it, I have five brothers and sisters) but Anne’s tenacity, imagination, quirkiness and ability to push the boundaries of her life, are character traits I continue to share (I’m not sure if they were in me already, or if I just morphed myself into a copy of Anne). 

The second book from my childhood I cherish is called All Because of Posy, by Kathleen O’Farrell which is simply a lovely old book (1957) about a little girl whose sister disappeared and is believed to have died. It is set in quintessential English countryside and gave me the deep-rooted desire to own a little cottage that has roses around the door, an apple tree in the garden and lots of bird song (I think I’m still searching for Posy’s cottage!).

In adulthood two books in particular have become my ‘fall back’ books for when I go to bed and just want to read something comforting and familiar, The first is, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. To me, the characterisation in this book is simply perfect, and the subtle comedic element is sublime. Every time read it I become even more enamoured by the story. If you have never read this book, I cannot urge you enough to buy a copy. The second is, Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons – genius, genius, genius (I don’t think I need to say anymore then that). 

So there you have it; these are the books of my heart. Someone once told me that she would carry my debut novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, around in her heart for a very long time – which was the most special compliment anyone could ever have given to me. 

My review

The Amazon reviews of this lovely book from one of my favourite publishers, Choc Lit, say everything about it really. There were 205 of them when I looked today, and only 8 of them three stars or less. In terms of volume, that’s really something – but no surprise at all, because this book was absolutely lovely, a joy to read from its opening pages to the last. 

The whole premise for the book is excellent – a tour arranged by Grace’s mother Rosamund before her death, guided by a series of letters which help her find out more about her mother’s life, with a gorgeous but emotionally damaged Marine as her guide and companion. 

I’ve seen the comparisons with PS I Love You – but it’s so much better than that. The whole journey with Alasdair and Grace is wonderful – every setting vividly, accurately and enticingly described (I know the Yorkshire setting well – the others I’d now love to visit…), but at an emotional level too. I loved Rosamund’s clear voice through the letters, the perfect mother/daughter relationship it portrayed. And yes, Alasdair is thoroughly lovely – he’d certainly found a place in my heart by the book’s end. I just loved it, a really good old-fashioned but original romantic read – don’t miss this one.

My thanks to netgalley and publishers Choc Lit for my reading copy – which was actually my second copy, as it was already on my kindle from the date it was first released! 

Meet the author

A Yorkshire lass first and foremost, Melanie left her native county in 1994 when she joined the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Officer. Melanie enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle awarded by her military career.  In addition to working at several air stations throughout the UK, she experienced an operational tour in the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, and served as air liaison officer with the British Army during their insurgence into Iraq in 2003.

In May 2004 she transferred to the Royal Navy Air Traffic Control Specialisation, the highlight of which was an exhilarating stint in HMS Invincible.  Melanie had a son in 2007, before retiring from military life in 2010, after which she moved to Dubai temporarily where she finally found the time to pursue her passion for writing.  She wrote the majority of her first novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, while sitting in a Japanese tea shop overlooking the Burj Kalifa.

Melanie is happiest when wandering in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands (pretending to be all mysterious and romantic). Melanie lives in Devon. She has a lovely website and you can follow her on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Guest post and review: The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson

  1. Sheryl Browne

    Oh, what a lovely review! I think The Wedding Cake Tree seems to be earning a special place in a fair few hearts. Well done, Melanie. Thanks for sharing, Anne. 🙂 xx

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