I’m delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock, the second book in her Riverside Lane series, and sharing my publication day review. Published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available as an e-book (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided through netgalley).
I couldn’t resist reading another book from Alison Sherlock – I thoroughly enjoyed The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts last year (you’ll find my review here), and I was looking forward to another visit to Cranbridge and the lovely community of Riverside Lane…
Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.
But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.
Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive. With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper?
Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…
You might remember that I found the first book in this lovely series a little bit slow to begin with, as the characters were established and I began to feel comfortable in the village of Cranbridge – but I must say that I loved this book from the very beginning. After an introduction to Lucy and her Uncle Frank, I felt immediately at home, and the smile on my face never faltered for an instant.
The Cranbridge Times – owned by Frank – has hit difficult times. When he sends Lucy in the direction of editor Tom – while she’s licking her wounds after a relationship that had her more used to being on the front pages of the tabloids – he hopes there’s something she’ll be able to do to help restore its fortunes. And it’s not just the paper that’s struggling, Tom is too – he’s recently lost his mother, is very unhappy at home, and has lost his ability to write. The relationship between them is just wonderful – she surprises him (and herself) as she puts in some really hard work, comes up with new ideas, and begins to make his life infinitely happier too.
I really loved the two main characters and the way they were developed, but the supporting cast is excellent too. If you read the first book, many of them will already be familiar – but if this is your first visit to Cranbridge, you’ll soon feel you’ve known them forever, looking forward to evenings in the Black Swan (just so long as you aren’t put off by the warring couple who run it – and don’t eat the food) or to enjoying your coffee and pastry on the bench overlooking the river outside the newly renovated Cranbridge Stores.
As well as the exceptionally well drawn setting, there’s such a wonderful sense of community in this book. In Amber, Belle and Molly, Lucy finds the kind of supportive friendship she’s never had before – and finds it’s something she rather likes. And Molly, who Lucy shares a flat with, also finds out what friendship really means – and it’s certainly not what she has with her toxic boyfriend or the loud-mouthed and abrasive Bridget – and it was a joy to see her gaining a new confidence. But the older characters are also excellent – and there’s a really nice focus on family too.
There’s also some lovely humour – Dodgy Del can always be relied on for that – perfectly balanced by all the moments of warmth and poignancy. A community pulling together is always something I really enjoy, and this was one it was an absolute delight to be part of. Now, it just needs something else to make it complete – yes, it’s a dog, and the wonderful Keith finds himself a home and a happier life too. The writing is excellent, and I really enjoyed the story that unfolded – some really nice ideas, a few big changes that make a real difference, coupled with a growing romance that I found really touching but also entirely believable and authentic.
There’s an immense warmth about it all – there may be a few characters who behave badly, a few touches of drama, but that only helps make it feel all the more real. Lucy comes to feel Cranbridge is a place she doesn’t want to leave – and I felt exactly the same. If you’re looking for a book to escape with, that pulls at your heartstrings a little, that makes you feel good, that makes you smile – well you really won’t find anything much better than this. The loveliest read, and I recommend it really highly.
About the author
Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village, and the first title, The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts, was published in July 2020.