The House of Birds and Butterflies by Cressida McLaughlin
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 26th July 2018
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 464
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction
‘With a heroine that you root for this is a sweet read with real heart and soul’ Sarra Manning author of The House of Secrets
Abby Field loves every inch of Meadowsweet Nature Reserve on the idyllic Suffolk coast where she lives and works. Especially Swallowtail House, the rambling but empty country house that seems to look out at her each time she passes it’s shut-up windows.
When a TV wildlife programme choses a rival location for their new series, Meadowsweet is under threat – unless Abby can whip up a plan to keep the visitors flocking. But she finds herself distracted by the arrival of a brooding – and annoyingly handsome new neighbour… bad-boy novelist, Jack Westcoat.
With the pressure on, Abby and her cute rescue huskie, Raffle, must pull something special out of the bag. But with Jack in need of a good friend – and Abby feeling the pull of attraction, she can sense her resolve fluttering away…
Abby Field lives and works at a nature reserve in Suffolk called Meadowsweet – she’s full of passion for her work, and holds it so dear to her heart. However, it’s under treat and Abby’s job is to bring even more visitors there to save it from closing.
Jack moves to Meadowsweet looking for peace to write his new book and – shortly – to hide from a scandal that happened in London. his and Abby’s first encounter is not too promising, moreover, Jack’s letters get her in troubles with her boss, Penelope Hardings.
And apropos Penelope – there is this mystery surrounding her beautiful Georgian house that’s now left empty for many years and is becoming lost to nature.
I loved Abby’s passion and devotion and sometimes I really couldn’t understand why her boss Penelope is so unfair towards her – she really devoted a lot of her time to bring life, customers and money to the reserve and in my eyes it was just not spoken for for Penelope to treat her like that. I think she should be happy that Abby didn’t pack and go – but she loved this place too much to do such a thing. Neither she, nor her co – workers wouldn’t go down without a fight and I loved this spirit in them all. Nothing was impossible for them and I loved the ideas of events and walks that they organized.
All the characters worked together brilliantly, they just felt great in each other company, and even Jack turned out to be not so bad, no? I won’t say more, as I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, but let me just tell you, Jack, mmmm *swooning* – it was great how well Cressida tackled the whole Jack business. The characters were all enthusiastic and full of life. They were not flawless, they made mistakes but they also could admit when they were wrong, which is always a great thing and make the characters so much more true to life. The banter between them was so natural and easy and of course, as always when we dealwith such a small close – knit community, they knew everything about each other and yes, it was guaranteed they’re going to see you in the morning in your last – night clothes.
The only thing that bothered me a little was the fact that sometimes I had a feeling this story is not going to end. I mean, I love Cressida’s writing and the way she so brilliantly brings her characters and stories to life but there were moments that slowed the reading down too much. The characters were going on and on about their feelings, examined all the pros and cons, repeating themselves. I know this book was previously published as a four – parts series and probably it was needed but as a full – length novel it was just way too long and sidetracked me from the main plot.
I loved the setting in this book, it was so unusual! I’ve never before read a book set at the nature reserve, full of unusual sorts of birds, bugs and butterflies. Cressida McLaughlin brings her setting and vivid descriptions to life so effortlessly and I loved all the descriptions, the views, the ideas that were supposed to help to save the reserve. And I loved Abby’s characterisations of birds at the beginning of each chapter! They made me curious and intrigued and I would love to see all those birds after reading Abby’s short notes
Altogether, “The House of Birds and Butterflies” was a sweet, cosy and heart – warming novel with enough dramatic to keep me on my tenterhooks. Yes, you could see where it is heading but there were enough twists and bumps on the way to make the outcome not so obvious and predictable. It was a lovely, charming story with unusual, gorgeous setting, also bringing the importance of nature and preserving it, showing how easy it is to appreciate and enjoy it. The end seemed a little too rushed for me, especially the subplot with Penelope but I could live with it, and there were enough twists and turns throughout the whole story. The mix between the wellies and walks through the woods and the glamorous life and lights of London showed and confirmed that I am the wellies – kind.
I’ve read all but one Cressida McLaughlin’s books and her stories and writing get only better and better. She can create the most wonderful, unforgettable and human characters, and not only those on two legs but she also has a heart for and understanding of animals, which she proved a few times already. Her settings are original and unusual and when I read her book I don’t have a feeling that “I’ve been there, I’ve seen it” – they’re like a breath of fresh air, and it was the same with this newest offering. Highly recommended!