FINALLY it’s my stop on Alex’s Brown blog tour for her new Tindledale novel, ‘The Secret of Orchard Cottage’. YAY! Oh guys, you have no idea how excited I am about this blog tour. First off, it’s ALEX BROWN (also known as Alexandra Brown) and second, we’re back in Tindledale!! Need I say more? Of course not, if you’re a chick lit/women’s fiction fan you’ve probably not only read but devoured each of Alex’s books. Before I leave you to read my review of this beautiful book and a recipe lovely Alex decided to share with you, I’d like to thank Hayley and the rest of Team Harper for the chance to be part of this blog tour and for my review copy.
Now, sit back and enjoy mesmerising and picturesque Tindledale!
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alexandra Brown
Series: Tindledale #3
Published by Harper Collins
Published on 2.6.2016
Genres: women's fiction
Buy on amazon.co.uk or Buy on amazon.com
The wonderful new novel from Alex Brown, bestselling author of The Great Christmas Knit Off, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell..
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?
And we’re back in Tindledale! The place where you find yourself, get in touch with your feelings and start afresh. Oh how I waited to get back to this enchanting little village. Everything seems to change but Tinderdale stays the same, making it truly a magical place to heal your wounds.
‘The Secret of Orchard Cottage’ is the third book in the Tindledale series by amazingly talented Alexandra Brown. Ever since ARCs went live on NetGalley, twitter literally went mad with comments about this book. Most of my friends commented on how this is probably Alex’s best book yet, and I was really impatient to grab a copy and start reading. The Tindledale series is rather different to Alex’s earlier books i.e. The Carrington’s series. They were more fluffy, light or what we’d call – beach reads. However, Tindledale books, especially the latest ‘The Secret of Orchard Cottage’ are more serious, more complex and layered. Whatever I was expecting from Alex, I surely didn’t expect this. While I knew I would once again read her beautiful descriptions of the most amazing place, I didn’t expect such a beautiful and layered story.
I had tears in my eyes just from reading the opening, and it’s safe to say it’s one of the best I’ve probably ever read. I was like, what happens to Winnie? I want to know more about Winnie! Alex does an excellent work in getting you hooked in just few pages, I bow to her brilliance in doing that. The book starts with Winnie leaving home for WWII, following her brothers’ footsteps and leaving behind her younger sister Edith (Edie) and her parents. Everyone is so proud of her, she’s brave, ambitious and wants to make a difference. In a way, her younger sister Edie is slightly jealous of her and all the adventures that are ahead of Winnie. However, this is where the Prologue stops and we have no idea what happens to Winnie during the war. Fast forward many years we meet April, who’s lost her husband to a terrible illness and despite being a year and a half since he passed away, she can’t move on with her life. Even her stepchildren encourage her to start over and think of the future, but April is still heartbroken, losing the only man she loved, the man who supported her and despite not being married for a long time, showed her what true love is. There’s one scene which I’d like to share with you (as I don’t consider it as a spoiler) that really broke my heart. April is celebrating her Birthday and she receives flowers and a card from her late husband. He arranged with the florist to deliver April flowers every Birthday (for a long time) and this literally crushed my heart into pieces. How thoughtful and noble for someone who was dying to think of his love, so selflessly… Even after been diagnosed with a terminal disease, he put April’s happiness first, planning even the slightest detail to ease her life without him. If this is not true love, then I don’t know what is! I couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes, while the pain would undoubtedly still be there no matter how many years pass, at least we had some time (no matter how long) of sheer happiness and someone even from their grave is thinking of us. There’s something so romantic and even poetic about this, right?
Moving on…after receiving a letter from her great aunt Edith (Edie), April decides to visit her and the old house in Tindledale. Edith is now in her 90s and April hasn’t seen her for three years. She fears about of the state she’ll find both her great aunt and the house in, however she doesn’t have any other relatives and she owes so much to lovely Edith. But there’s another reason why she’s impatient to get to Tindledale, Edith called her ‘Winnie’ in her letter, but who is ‘Winnie’? Is it dementia, or there’s a relative or a daughter of Edie’s April doesn’t know about?
As you see, this book offers so much, there’s a beautiful story about grief, overcoming it and starting afresh, and also there’s the mystery element around Winnie and her history. The wonderful descriptions of Tindledale, the house and garden are a major bonus as you’ll really feel transported to this amazing fictional place, wishing it was real and you rented a house there. But I’m not gonna lie, while I absolutely enjoyed every page of this book, I was waiting for the mystery to be unraveled. I couldn’t wait to find out more about Winnie and what really happened to her during the war. Having said this, I had to wait and come rather far in the book to learn more about the mystery. While I know that Alex was building the suspense and that’s perfectly normal, I wish I didn’t have to wait so much to get to the mystery part. This is the only reason for deducing 1* (1/2* actually) from the max 5/5 rating.
But other than that, I really have no remarks regarding the story itself, or the characters. I absolutely loved April, and not only loved but respected and understood her completely. I loved the fact she’s close to her stepchildren, who are grown ups yet have a strong, solid bond with April. April is a lovely, caring person you can’t help but love. She gets under your skin very fast, and is such a sweet and sensitive person. It was really easy to connect with her and enjoy every moment of her transformation. I cheered for her and secretly hoped she’ll find a way to mend her broken heart.
Overall, ‘The Secret of Orchard Cottage’ is a wonderful, bittersweet story that will make you dream, hope and shed a few tears (or more). I really didn’t have the feeling I was reading a book, I felt more like my heart and Alex were having a dialogue or like I was watching a beautiful movie. As always is the case with her books, time flies and before you know it, you’ve reached the last page. I really can’t wait for the next Tindledale story and hope there are many more to come.
Edie’s Snowball Recipe
Taken from The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown
- 100ml lemonade
- 50ml Advocaat
- Lime juice
- 1 Glacé cherry
- Place all of the ingredients into a tumbler filled with crushed
ice and stir well.
- Garnish with a glacé cherry popped onto the side of the glass