It’s such a pleasure today to join the blog tour and share my review of Home On Folly Farm by the wonderful Jane Lovering: published as an ebook (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook by Boldwood Books on 16th March. My thanks, as always, to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
Did you know Jane’s one of my favourites? (Yes, I think you probably do by now…!). I know I was so delighted when she signed up with Boldwood because her books can now reach readers who’ve never come across her writing before – you know, all the ones that are saying “what a great new writer”, not knowing that she’s always been a fantastic writer, discovered by some of us quite a long time ago (I do hope some of them delve into her back catalogue…). The Country Escape was such a great start to her time with Boldwood – in fact, I might even go as far as saying it was my favourite so far, and included without hesitation in my 2020 Books of the Year (you’ll find my review here). So six months on – and we have a new one…
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. Just right for fans of Emma Burstall, Holly Martin and Kate Forster.
It’s a tough life, running a sheep farm on the Yorkshire Moors – but it’s a life that rather suits Dora, continuing the task of preserving the herd of rare sheep nurtured by her grandfather and the generations before him. The solitary life rather suits her, after a difficult start in life – she’s not really lonely, supported by the surrounding farming community when she needs them, the police patrol call in for a cuppa when they’re passing, and the local vet is a regular visitor providing every other kind of service she could possibly need. But her relatively contented life is turned upside down by the sudden arrival of her sister Cass, apparently for an extended stay – accompanied by media-obsessed son Thor, and his tutor Nat.
One of the author’s very many strengths is in her characterisation, and this book really is an absolute masterclass in how it should be done. If you take to Dora from the very start as I did, with her wry sense of humour and her arm up a sheep, you’ll most certainly feel different about sister Cass who is lazy, entitled, acerbic and combative from the moment she arrives. Thor is spoiled rotten – one of those twelve year olds that sometimes seems nearer thirty, running around in his designer trainers (laces untied, naturally) with his iPad in hand, looking for material for his vlog that will keep his (almost) one thousand followers happy. And then there’s Nat – who reminds Dora of a relationship she thought was left long in the past, but never forgotten. The exchanges between them all are quite wonderful – sometimes painful, but always extremely funny (and if I’m counting off the author’s strengths, humour really has to be near the top of the list too).
But what’s so exceptionally well done in this book is the character development. It might be fair to say that, in the present day, it’s not too complicated a story – but that’s until we begin to learn more about the past, slowly revealed, the upbringing and choices that brought the sisters to where they are now, giving their characters considerable depth, dealing with some quite serious issues, and bringing a few surprises along the way. I really liked the new Thor that emerged too – the flashes of excited child sometimes only glimpsed in passing become increasingly evident (and endearing) when he has some small charges to care for and gets to drive the tractor. And Nat – always there with a supportive comment, a shared smile, a bit of reassurance, and a hug when it’s really needed. The book slowly becomes so much more than an everyday story of farming life and the interactions within a dysfunctional family – and I loved every moment.
I’ve already mentioned the humour – when reviewing one of the author’s books, it’s really rather a given – but she’s really becoming the queen of the chase scene too (remember Patrick’s dramatic moment of glory in The Country Escape?). The one in this book is quite wonderful – superbly written, tense and gripping but also laugh-out-loud funny, with a few really original elements that certainly overturn the more negative perceptions of social media. And, of course, there’s always the romance – slow burn, not what you might be expecting, but delivering everything I wanted. And I really must mention the sheep – only the special ones have names, and there are certainly a few in this book that will capture your heart (and, I have to say, bring a tear to your eye at times – sobbing over a sheep is a new first for me!).
Yes, she’s done it again – another book that just confirms why she’s unfailingly one of my favourite authors. I really loved this one – and think you will too…
About the author
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.