Being Anne is now just over five years old, but there are those books I read in the very early days that will always have a special place in my heart. I reviewed The Cheesemaker’s House by Jane Cable way back in September 2013, and remember it as well as if I’d read and enjoyed it yesterday – and I’m really so delighted to be joining the book’s fifth birthday celebrations. If you haven’t read this one, and you like the books that I do, I’d really urge you to give it a try – you’ll find it on Amazon (paperback and for kindle), but also in Kobo and on iBooks, and on the shelves of Waterstones.
Just think, Alice, right now Owen could be putting a hex on you!
When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including the drop-dead gorgeous builder Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent cafe´ owner, Owen Maltby.
As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village charmer, what exactly does that mean?
The Cheesemaker’s House is a gripping read, inspired by a framed will found in the dining room of the author’s dream Yorkshire house. The previous owners explained that the house had been built at the request of the village cheesemaker in 1726 – and that the cheesemaker was a woman. And so the historical aspect of the story was born.
Jane Cable’s novel won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show People’s Novelist competition, reaching the last four out of over a thousand entries. The Cheesemaker’s House can be enjoyed by anyone who has become bored of today’s predictable boy-meets-girl romance novels.
“I desperately want to find out about Owen; a fascinating character… the gift here is to make you want to read on” – Jeffrey Archer
I’m really delighted to be able to give my review another airing to help celebrate the book’s fifth birthday – I’ll warn you that it’s maybe a little more tentative than the reviews I write today, but I do hope the real enjoyment this book gave me still shines through!
A little bit of Yorkshire magic happened last week. I’d just finished reading this book, when my phone bleeped – unbelievably, it was an email from Jane Cable asking me if I’d think about reading it, because I’m Yorkshire based and because a number of friends whose blogs I follow had enjoyed it. Spooky eh? And I was delighted to be able to tell her I’d already read it and she was right – I really enjoyed it.
And Yorkshire magic is wholly appropriate to describe this book. I was initially attracted when it won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. Described as a “page-turner that will have readers hooked instantly”, I was quite surprised though by its lightness of touch and total absence of any hint of crime. Don’t get me wrong, the suspense is there – there’s a really interesting touch of the mystical and supernatural – but if I were categorising I’d say that this is a book that would appeal to the chick lit reader who might be looking for something a little different, and might just disappoint someone looking for a psychological thriller. Best description I think might be part love story, part ghost story, and it does it very well.
Alice Hart moves to a village near Northallerton in North Yorkshire after breaking up with her husband, and sets about making friends – Richard Wainwright the builder (who she employs to renovate her barn), Margaret her elderly neighbour and gardener, and Owen and Adam who are trying to make a success of the local cafe. Attracted to Owen, who is a “charmer” – a herbalist healer with a touch of magic, inherited from his grandmother – as well as a friendly cafe owner, she is shaken when she sees him around the village when he isn’t there. And then there’s the crying that wakes her night after night – where is it coming from?
This was such a well written story, with the right balance of romance, suspense and magic, a little different from the norm, with a strong sense of place and well drawn characters. My personal favourite was actually Richard, who reminded me of every builder I’ve met since moving to Yorkshire – always trying his luck, talks with just the right accent, tied up in the supernatural happenings but taking it all in his stride. I found Alice a little less engaging – but who wouldn’t love Owen? The author is a good storyteller and I really enjoyed this one, but if you try it – and I really would recommend it to anyone who likes something a little different about their chick lit – do be aware that it’s gentle, a little slow moving, and the thrills are frissons rather than full blown horror. Read and enjoy – I certainly did.
And I went on to read – and love – Jane’s next two books. You might like to catch up on my reviews of The Faerie Tree and Another You (this book’s sadly no longer available – I do hope you’ll get the chance to read it) – her writing just gets better and better.
And it’s a real pleasure to welcome Jane Cable to Being Anne. I’d suggested a guest post, but when I read Jane’s letter – looking back at the last five years with such a personal focus – it brought a little tear to my eye…
It’s no surprise that you’ve won the Blogger Bash Best Pal Award three years running; to me, and I’d guess to countless other writers, readers and bloggers, you really do feel like a friend.
Five years ago you were one of the first bloggers to review my debut novel, The Cheesemaker’s House and you were so lovely and so kind I could have hugged you. Perhaps one day, if we meet, I will. Since then you’ve given my books a great deal of support and I will be forever grateful.
We have a lot in common too and over the last five years travelled a similar road in terms of selling family homes in Wales, caring for our mothers (although I lost mine in 2015), and finding escape in books. I’ll soon be joining you in the ranks of the early retired and I can’t wait.
I guess over the last five years a great deal has changed in both our lives. Book blogging as a whole has become a much bigger thing – more than a hobby really – and independent publishing has grown beyond all recognition too. So many books, so little time – all scrabbling for readers’ attention.
The important thing is not to forget that reading and writing should be a joy. I know you’re taking time out this summer and I think it’s a good call. Last winter I did the same. I stopped writing for a while and caught up on my reading. It’s one thing that has gone by the wayside for me over the last five years as I find it hard to read fiction while I’m creating something new myself.
Isn’t it strange how absorbing hobbies become the centre of our lives? Over the last five years writing has crept, slowly but surely, from the edges of my world to centre stage. The success of my first two indie novels led to my first publishing contract, but in truth that wasn’t the greatest of experiences and a book I loved (and you loved – thank you) disappeared without trace even before the publisher went into liquidation.
As I write I know there will be better news for it around the corner. Quite how good remains to be seen. If I’ve learnt one thing over the last five years it’s that all publishers are not the same. And that sometimes it can be better to keep control of your beloved books yourself.
There are two other important lessons it’s worth mentioning. First, that marketing a book is all important. Once you have a book worthy of marketing, that is. I always say to any aspiring author, take the time you think you’ll spend on marketing and double it. And double it again. And again. It can all get very tiring sometimes, but the social media contact with other writers and book bloggers are small lights along the journey.
Which brings me on to the second lesson. It’s often said that writing is a lonely thing to do. Rubbish. Solitary, yes. Lonely, no. In the last five years I’ve discovered a whole world of friendly writers happy to share the ups and downs at conferences, over lunch, in Facebook groups and by phone. The fellowship of it all has been the greatest unexpected pleasure and I suspect you’ve found the same in blogging too.
So here’s to the bookish adventures of the next five years!
With fond regards,
Jane, thank you – it’s been an interesting five years for us both, your friendship and support over the years have meant a great deal to me (and you’re right, I’ve made so many friends by being part of this bookish world too). I do hope the tour will help bring your lovely writing to the attention of a whole new set of readers, and I’ll very much look forward to seeing what comes next…!
About the author
Although brought up in Cardiff, Jane Cable left Wales to study at the age of eighteen and has lived in England ever since. Her father was Anglo-Welsh poet Mercer Simpson so growing up in a house full of books Jane always read – and wrote. In 2011 she started to take her hobby seriously when The Cheesemaker’s House, which became her debut novel, reached the final of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. She writes romance with a twist of mystery which has been published independently and through the UK ebook giant, Endeavour Press. Jane is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a director of Chindi Authors.
In 2017 Jane moved to Cornwall and this year will become a full time author. She’s passionate about her new home, cricket, travelling and her husband of 22 years – although not necessarily in that order.