I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog tour for Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow, published by HarperImpulse on 11th January and available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, with the paperback to follow on 21st March. It’s really about time I read one of Christie’s books – her others have sat neglected on my kindle for far too long! – and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. My thanks to tour organiser Rachel’s Random Resources and the publishers for providing my reading e-copy via netgalley.
Welcome to Love Heart Lane…
When Flick Simons returns to the small village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.
When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away! As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…
I rarely follow a book series – and worry not, this book is the first in a planned series, but a self-contained standalone – but I’m already really looking forward to visiting Heartcross again. There’s little I enjoy more than a book set in the heart of a community, the interactions between well-drawn characters, maybe a little intrigue and upset, and a romantic interest or two – and this lovely book was everything I hoped and wanted it to be.
The characters, major and minor, are just excellent. I really took to Flick, returning home after a long absence, finding it difficult to re-establish the connections she once had, then suddenly finding herself right in the middle of the action as the community pulls together after the dramatic collapse of the bridge connecting Heartcross to the rest of civilisation. She has an edge of real sadness about her – the reasons she originally left for London walking away from the love of her life, the recent loss of her much-loved grandmother and the fact that she didn’t visit before she died, her mother Rona’s struggle to make ends meet and the abandoned tea-shop. I just loved the way relationships were tentatively – and very realistically – rebuilt: this is a wonderful story of second chances, told with a very sure emotional touch. And her fractured relationship with Fergus quite broke my heart.
But Flick’s personal story is only part of this book. It’s a great story about a community pulling together in adversity, every individual beautifully drawn, full of tension and drama and misunderstandings, people behaving well and rather badly (as real people do) – and the way the story builds warms your heart and makes your heart sing. There’s a tremendous sense of place – Heartcross became a place I felt I’d visited, and the descriptions of the snowbound village really make you shiver. The writing is excellent – the dialogue is particularly well done, always realistic and moving the story forward. I liked the focus on social media too – its downsides, but also its power for good – and it turned what could have been a timeless story into one with a refreshingly contemporary edge. The pacing is perfect too – a few steps forward, a setback, then a few more careful steps – and it was a book I raced through and thoroughly enjoyed.
I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to pick up a book by Christie Barlow – she’s very much my kind of writer, and I most definitely want to follow this series. Total enjoyment, a few tears, and a wide smile as I left – I loved this one.
About the author
Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Love Heart Lane.
Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia.
Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being, as well as Literary Editor for www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.