Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown

The Secret of Orchard Cottage

The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown
Published: 2nd June 2016
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

April Wilson is wondering what to do next – her life has been turned upside down after the loss of her husband so she’s hoping to piece herself together again with a visit to her elderly great aunt, Edith. Arriving in the rural idyll of Tindledale, she’s dismayed to find Edith’s cottage and the orchards surrounding it in a sorry state of disrepair. Edith seems to have lost interest completely, instead she’s become desperate to find out what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared during WWII.

April gets to work immediately, discovering that the orchard still delivers a bumper crop each year, and with the help of some of the villagers – including Matt, the enigmatic Farrier – begins to unravel the mystery of the missing Winnie. Slowly,
April can feel things coming to life again – but can Orchard Cottage work its magic on her too?

The Secret of Orchard Cottage is Alex Brown’s third novel set in the lovely village of Tindledale. Having read only the first book The Great Christmas Knit-Off, which I loved, I wasn’t sure if the books followed on, however as each book focuses on different members of the village I believe you can read them in any order.
In the Secret of Orchard Cottage we meet April Wilson, who after grieving for her husband Graham for eighteen months decides it’s time for a change and heads off to visit her old Aunt Edie in Tindledale, who she has sadly lost touch with as she cared for her terminally ill husband.
On arrival April finds things in a very overgrown state and her Aunt in a very confused state as she keeps calling April Winnie. Who is Winnie and why is her Aunt so fixated on what happened to her? As April’s visit nears its end she feels very apprehensive about leaving her Aunt and retuning home so when step-daughter Nancy reassures her everything’s fine at home April decides to stay at Orchard Cottage and help her Aunt solve the mystery of Winnie and where she is.
Right from the start of reading this I was struck by the different tone Alex Brown has set for this novel, it seems deeper and more emotional.  Which given the themes of bereavement and dealing with Dementia is understandable. This isn’t a sad book though, in fact I found it to be a very heart-felt and uplifting novel.  For fans of Alex’s previous novels there is still that special something which makes her writing just come alive, especially with the number of wonderful comical moments throughout the book, which were probably my favourite parts.
I love the characters that Alex Brown creates and there are some lovely ones here. April herself is a lovely lady who has a heart of gold but has sadly missed her chance to have children when her husband became ill. She instantly forms a bond with teenager Bella, who just happens to be the daughter of April’s childhood sweetheart Matt. She also becomes closer to step-daughter Nancy when she comes to visit and together they help Edie to piece together the mystery of Winnie, her sister who vanished in the war. These women also manage to bring to bring Orchard Cottage back to its former glory, despite a few hiccups along the way.
The Secret of Orchard Cottage has everything I want in a book, a beautiful setting, some heart-warming characters and a little bit of mystery. I loved this book and think it should be on everyone’s reading list this summer as Alex Brown has once again shown what a gifted storyteller she is.
Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

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