Book Review: Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley


Another Quick Pick from the library.

About the Author

From her site:

Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm, Conditional Love, Wickham Hall and The Plumberry School Of Comfort Food. She lives in a small Nottinghamshire village with her family and Pearl, the Cockerpoo.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Never without a book on the go, she now thinks she may have found her dream job! She loves to hear from her readers.

About the Book

From the book blurb:

From spring to summer, autumn to winter, a lot can happen in a single year . . .

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution. But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly into their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.

As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?

A charming and romantic story certain to make you smile – perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

What I liked:

While Ivy Lane has many great comedy moments, it also has a deeper, darker plot strand, and for a long time, we’re left unsure as to the exact nature of the trauma that Tilly’s left behind her. These two contrasting tones help to make the story more realistic – like the Queen song says, into every life, a little rain must fall – and allows it to tug on the heartstrings. And yes, I even had a snivel at one point.

As I may have mentioned before, I’m a sucker for a story about new starts, so this tale of Tilly’s allotment and how it reflects her attempt to rebuild her life while simultaneously hiding from it is a winner for me. I also liked the fact that there was a sense of closure for the characters; I wasn’t haunted by worries about what had happened to X or Y. The supporting cast are well drawn, likeable characters, with one exception….

What I Didn’t Like

Charlie. He’s my only gripe. There were just a couple of points when the behaviour of this potential love interest didn’t seem quite consistent, but I can’t say any more without spoilers.

Overall: A very enjoyable read. I’ll be looking out for more of Cathy’s titles.

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George



A library borrow from the Quick Pick section.

About The Author 
(abridged from her author bio on her site)

Born 1973 in Bielefeld, Germany, Nina George is a prize-winning, bestselling author and freelance journalist who has published 26 books (novels, mysteries and non-fiction) , over 100 short stories and more than 600 columns. In 2011, she established the “JA zum Urheberrecht” (YES on Author’s Rights) initiative, which supports the rights of authors and artists, and in August 2014, initiated the protest in Germany ( in which over 2000 German-speaking authors joined her to protest against Amazon’s ban of books from Hachette/Bonnier.

In 2013, her first bestselling book, ‘Das Lavendelzimmer’ (The Little Paris Bookshop), was translated into 30 languages and sold more than 800,000 copies. Today, Nina George sits on the board of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council (TSWTC) and is the official advisor on authors’ rights for German PEN. She also teaches writing and coaches professional authors.

About the Book

Jean Perdu is a Paris bookseller with a difference; his bookshop is not on a street but on a barge on the Seine, and it’s a bookshop with a difference, too. It’s a ‘literary apothecary’, where Jean ‘prescribes’ his customers the books they need to soothe their soul.

Yet Jean can’t cure himself of his heartbreak. It takes the arrival of a new neighbour and a new friend to shake things up, setting him and his bookshop free from their moorings. Jean leaves Paris behind and sets off on a quest to Provence, where he hopes to find answers to questions that have haunted him for years.

What I Liked:

The sense of escape – of leaving behind the trappings of normal everyday life to pursue an answer or a goal – is always one that appeals to me. I loved the dry wit and how a section of the novel is part- travelogue, with entertaining and evocative descriptions of the places and people the travellers encounter, and their life on the boat.

This book also had some subtle things to say about life, books and reading, and that scores highly with me. I grew to love the characters and could happily have stayed with them a little longer. Guilt, regret, happiness, love, loss, freedom, fresh starts and a warning against presuming that you know someone else’s reactions, feelings or motivations – and acting on those presumptions without checking you’re right.

What I Didn’t Like:

It was a little slow at the beginning and rather hard-going; I hadn’t noticed it was a translation, but within the first few pages I strongly suspected that was the case and checked! There are a few odd and quite stilted phrases, particularly in the first few chapters, and these early chapters could have done with a sharper edit to quickly establish the situation and get on with the story. It’s worth sticking with it, though. 🙂