A pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse by Katie Ginger, and to share my publication day review: published as an e-book today by HQ Digital, the paperback and audiobook will follow on 13th May. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
Katie joined me here as part of the blog tour for Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay back in June last year – a lovely guest post about writing the book, that you can read again here. I was then delighted to discover her lovely writing when I read and reviewed Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay in December – heartwarming, uplifting, emotional, full of lovely comedy moments, a wonderfully drawn location, and a great story with characters I really loved (you can read the full review again here). Much as I enjoyed my visit to Swallowtail Bay, I thought this one looked like something rather different… and I was rather looking forward to it.
Escape to the countryside with a heart-warming new novel from Katie Ginger, author of Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage.
Amelia loves her life in Paris. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, Meadow Farmhouse, she has no choice but to return to the small village of Meadowbank to restore her great-aunt’s old farmhouse. However returning to Meadowbank means she has to confront her past, including old flame Adam.
When Amelia discovers a locket hidden in the farmhouse, containing the picture of a mysterious World War Two soldier, she starts to uncover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past and is drawn further into village life. Shocked by the warm welcome from the villagers and her own surprising feelings for first love Adam, Amelia is suddenly confused as to where she truly belongs.
Can Amelia finally confront her own past and find where her heart truly calls home?
Fans of Rachael Lucas, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan will fall in love with Katie Ginger!
The prologue to this book, set in 1959, is really intriguing, and sets up quite perfectly the central mystery that underlies the modern day story that follows. We meet young Vera, looking forward to the prospect of marriage to Arty – but her romantic dream is thwarted when he tells her that he can’t marry her, but we never find out the reasons why. The Aunt Vera who provides Amelia with a home from childhood after the tragic death of her parents is a very different person from the excited young girl we’ve just briefly met – cold, miserable, embittered, lacking in any sort of love or affection – and her niece is pleased to leave Meadow Farmhouse (which was never “home”) behind and make her way in life as an interior designer, working in Paris, with a fairly comfortable life.
When Vera dies, she leaves the farmhouse to Amelia – although they’d largely lost contact when she moved away from the village of Meadowbank – and she has to return, her only plan to update the interior, put it on the market, and return to Paris. She certainly has the right skillset – and, as chance would have it, her former boyfriend Adam is now the village carpenter, and can help with those jobs that are too much for her. But Adam was maybe the one good thing about her former life in Meadowbank, both a friendship and a romance – but when she moved away she decided to break off contact, still yearns for the relationship they had, and wonders what kind of reception she’ll get.
And then there’s that central mystery – a discovered locket with the photo of a WW2 soldier, which drives Amelia’s need to find out more about her family history, and whatever it was that happened to change her aunt so completely.
I have to say that this isn’t a fast paced story, but then life in Meadowbank is rather slow paced too: there’s a lot of excellent description of the farmhouse itself and the village, which slows things down a little but really brings the setting vividly to life. There’s also a lot of one step forward, two steps backwards as she tries to rebuild her relationship with Adam – but it’s nice to see things from both their perspectives, and he certainly seems well worth the effort.
But there were two main elements to this book that I particularly enjoyed. The first was the cast of characters that make up the community of Meadowbank and their various interactions – some quite wonderful individuals (blimey, Adam’s tiger mother’s a bit scary!), every one nicely rounded, sometimes a little bit quirky, all beautifully done and really well written. The other was the gradual uncovering of the story behind the locket and Vera’s thwarted dreams – a nicely convoluted story really well managed, with some good emotional depth and an unexpected outcome.
Actually there’s a third thing I really enjoyed too – the book’s whole theme of home and belonging. As the village begin to accept her back (all those gifts of food were lovely, but oh, the impossibility of keeping anything secret…!), it throws her new life into perspective – the shallowness of her friendships, the negligible value of things she thought really mattered – and she starts to question what might really be important.
The romance in the book is quite lovely – in fact, all the emotional content is really well judged. There are some nice touches of humour too – particularly with Adam’s mother and the awkward moments as Amelia and Adam get to know each other again. It’s a lovely escapist read, perfect for our times, with a nice focus on past and present – light enough to be called an easy read, but there’s more than enough depth to engage. I rather enjoyed this one…
About the author
Katie Ginger lives by the sea in the south-east of England, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big as your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse is her seventh novel. She is also the author of the Swallowtail Bay series – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay, Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay and Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay; Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage; and the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time with her husband and two kids, and their dogs: Wotsit, the King Charles spaniel, and Skips, the three-legged Romanian rescue dog. (And yes, they are both named after crisps!)