Wickham Hall by Cathy Bramley
Publishing Date: 14th January 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Contemporary
Holly Swift has just landed the job of her dreams: events co-ordinator at Wickham Hall, the beautiful manor home that sits proudly at the heart of the village where she grew up. Not only does she get to organise for a living and work in stunning surroundings, but it will also put a bit of distance between Holly and her problems at home.
As Holly falls in love with the busy world of Wickham Hall – from family weddings to summer festivals, firework displays and Christmas grottos – she also finds a place in her heart for her friendly (if unusual) colleagues.
But life isn’t as easily organised as an event at Wickham Hall (and even those have their complications…). Can Holly learn to let go and live in the moment? After all, that’s when the magic happens…
I can’t express how much I was waiting to finally read Wickham Hall by Cathy Bramley! I usually don’t wait for her series to come out as a full – length novel but read them part by part, immediately after they are released, so I really have no explanation why I waited this time. But no matter, no matter…! When the book arrived, I couldn’t stop looking at it – really. The cover is so gorgeous, only looking at it made me feel better But this what is between the cover is even better than the cover, Cathy delivers a wonderful, warm, lovely story – again! There may be thousand of uncertain things in your life, but one is for sure – when you pick Cathy Bramley’s book, you are for a real treat.
Just like Cathy’s previous books, Wickham Hall, that was firstly published as a series, is divided into four parts, and each part is in charge of a season – and it worked out brilliantly in this book, as there is always at least one big event to be organized in the Hall, and the plot focuses around it. It suits the book totally, and we have not only Christmas party, but fireworks night or Summer Fairs.
Cathy is a champion of creating delightful plots, worlds and characters, and it was not exception with Wickham Hall. I immediately felt at home when I started reading this novel, felt comfortable and in the right place. Holly Swift, Cathy’s new protagonist and main character, is just charming. She is on the normal level, a girl from the neighbourhood, a lovely, friendly person, but she can also stand for herself, when situation requires. I loved Holly’s internal dialogues, I couldn’t have enough of her dilemmas, she was so funny and this all only made me like her even more. She was so down to earth, genuine and honest in everything she did. Also, she had the biggest heart in the world and tons of patience in her, which we could see and appreciate when Holly’s mother Lucy was introduced to us – Lucy and her hoarding issues. It was also a point in the book that was brilliantly tackled by Cathy, with a lot of understanding and gentleness, and it quickly became clear why Holly is as she is: meticulous, clipboard kind of girl, with everything planned in advance. I also loved Holly’s enthusiasm about almost everything, loved her fresh ideas, and she was really the kind of girl that I’d love to have as my own, personal best friend.
And let’s talk about Ben. We can’t NOT talk about him. Move over all of my previous bookish crushes, now it’s Ben. For me, he was perfect. No, he himself was not perfect, he had his flaws, but from the very first scene we meet him (mmmmm…) I was sold. I was smitten. I was under his spell. And it didn’t change. A guy with his own dreams and plans that he wasn’t afraid to chase, a guy with talent, sexy as hell, with a brilliant sense of humour, leather jacket and able to organize the best dates in the world. Hello? And the sweeping romance was so, so sweet!
There is a great bunch of characters in this story, because we are talking not only about Holly, her mum and her best friend, but also about the owners of the Wickham Hall and all the staff members there, and they were all so true to life, so genuine in this what they were doing and saying, and I adored them all – even though I had a little clash with Lady F. some time during the story. They all add tons to the book – in the sense of their own stories and personalities. They were all so welcoming and so warm, and just made me feel like a part of their one, big family.
The plot moves seamlessly and the story is just flowing, and the author’s storytelling is incredibly engaging. Cathy always finds lovely settings for her novels, but this time she has exceeded herself. Wickham Hall and its surroundings, together with the village, were beautiful. The descriptions of those places were so very vivid, I didn’t have any problems to picture all of them in my mind, and Cathy created a truly special place.
I may sound like a very ungrateful reader, but I am really already waiting for Cathy’s next novel – I just can’t have enough of her writing and I hope she will be writing books for many, many years to come – she just pulls you into the story with her wonderful, vivid descriptions and you feel so, so welcome. Wickham Hall was the best example of her talent, easy, enjoyable read that had a depth to it. It made me laugh, it had moments that had me feeling a little nostalgic, it was fast paced, and when one secret was revealed the next was already waiting for you So and I loved the whole story, from the beginning to the end – a truly brilliant book, highly recommended!