It’s a real pleasure to be joining Bookouture‘s Books-on-tour again today, and sharing my review of The Beekeeper’s Cottage by Emma Davies. Published on 6th August, it’s available via Amazon for kindle and in paperback, and also via Apple Books, Googleplay and for Kobo. My thanks to Bookouture for my advance reading e-copy, provided through netgalley.
I was really looking forward to this one – I remember Amos from his all-too-brief appearance in Merry Mistletoe, and so wanted to find out his story. And was this book everything I wanted it to be? It’s a very emphatic “yes”…!
Comforted by the gentle hum of the beehives at the bottom of the garden, Grace drains the last of her tea and walks slowly back towards the little hillside house she adores. Her marriage is over, but is it too late to start her life again?
Beekeeper Grace thought throwing out her cheating husband would be the hardest thing she ever did. But when she opens the door to a property developer one morning, it’s clear that keeping her beautiful home and garden – her only sanctuary throughout her miserable marriage – will be the greatest challenge of all…
Fleeing to her best friend at the farm next door, Grace blurts out all her problems, only to be overheard by Amos, a handsome, free-spirited visitor with a twinkle in his eye. Fascinated by Grace and her bees, Amos offers to stay in the village of Hope Corner, to help turn her home into a guest house in return for lessons on beekeeping.
As Grace shows Amos how to nurture a hive and harvest honeycomb without getting stung, he is charming but secretive. He never stays long in the same place after an incident in his past involving a mysterious woman named Maria. But as their eyes lock over a jar of homemade honey, Grace can’t help feeling that she’d really like him to stay…
Determined to dispel her growing suspicion that Amos is running from something serious, Grace goes in search of the truth about Maria. But when she finds it, will she still want Amos to put down roots in Hope Corner, and will they still have a house to return to?
No matter how far they travel, bees will always find their way home…
There was so much I loved about this book that I hardly know where to start. If you read The House at Hope Corner, the backdrop and many of the characters will already be familiar – but, although it was good to see how their lives have moved on, there’s no problem at all should this be your first encounter. Grace was a strong character, on the periphery of the earlier story, who really intrigued me, and it was so good to see her take centre stage. And then, there’s Amos – I’d met him before, but I’d forgotten how much he’d impressed me with his quiet strength and serenity.
The story is really excellent, and so well told – Grace’s fear over losing her home as her marriage disintegrates, her lying and cheating husband who thinks he can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, the support of her friends and neighbours, and her own efforts to make it a happy ending. Amos is there for her in so many ways, their attraction growing with a warmth that brought tears to my eyes – but this is his story too, with revelations and surprises about the reasons for his itinerant life. This book positively radiates warmth – the glorious summer itself, the scent of flowers and the humming of the bees, its vivid setting, but also with its very real depiction of love and caring, as they take their cautious steps towards a second chance romance.
At times, the book is very funny – and there’s really a nice lightness and gentle humour throughout. But it also explores the darker side of relationships, where you want nothing more than for some to have their rightful comeuppance. It explores the notion of “home” – and very beautifully, from the human perspectives of its main characters and drawing on analogies with the lives of the bees. And there’s a tremendous authenticity about this book’s emotional content, as you share the thoughts of both Grace and Amos and yearn for them to share them with each other. Then there are some people who behave very badly indeed – and there are others who surprise you in the loveliest ways.
This book really was the most perfect summer read, but with a depth that made it such a satisfying read – and I don’t think the author’s writing, which I’ve always enjoyed, has ever been better. I really loved this book, and recommend it most highly.
And just an additional personal thank you to Emma. I’d always been fascinated by Amos’ story, ever since we last met him – and the way you’ve told it in this lovely book was simply perfect…
About the author
After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a forty something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.
After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband, three children, and two guinea pigs in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life. It’s a county she adores, her love of its beautiful people and landscapes providing endless inspiration for her books, and in fact the only thing that would make Shropshire more idyllic is if it were by the sea.
Pop over to her website where, amongst other things, you can read about her passion for Pringles and singing loudly in the car. You can also wave to her on Twitter or find her on Facebook (a little too often than is good for her).