Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster
Publishing Date: 19th March 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages:
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Buy the Book: Kindle
Buying a thatched cottage in the country may not be the usual cure for a broken heart.
But after Clara Maxwell finds out her boyfriend and best friend have been sneaking around behind her back, packing her bags and leaving everything in London behind feels like the only option…
Clara knew Acorn Cottage would be a fixer-upper… Yet in person, the cottage is less charmingly ramshackle and more a real health and safety concern. When Henry Garnett, her (rather handsome) new contractor, turns up with his little daughter Pansy and a van shaped like a cottage in tow, she isn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. What on earth has she gotten herself into?!
Still, there is something strangely lovable about the people in the little village of Merryknowe, from Rachel Brown, the quiet, lonely girl who bakes magical confections for the tearooms, to Tassie McIver, a little old lady with a lot of wisdom and a penchant for reading tea leaves. And Clara can’t deny that Henry and Pansy are quickly worming their way into her heart…
With all the heartbreak of the year behind her, could Acorn Cottage be the fresh start Clara so desperately wants?
When Clara finds that her boyfriend and her best friend have been going behind her back, she knows it’s time to say goodbye – to both of them and to her life as it is. She has always dreamed of living in a thatched cottage, so, after a glass or two of wine too much, she goes online and bang! Buys a thatched cottage, in Marryknowe. Acorn Cottage looks so beautiful on the photos.
However, as it turns out, right after Clara’s arrival to her new place, the cottage is almost uninhabitable. Forget the roses in the garden when there is not much more else than a roof over her head, and there are still some holes in it.
Fortunately, Henry and his daughter Pansy arrive in their little van, Henry looking for a job, and Clara’s cottage is perfect for him to start working asap.
But is Acorn Cottage really the place that will help Clara to heal?
The book is written in a way that immediately sucks you in and you are truly invested in Clara’s life. She’s this kind of character that you want to succeed, keeping everything crossed for her. There were moments that I was wondering if Clara is showing us her true colours, as, you know, she was everywhere and wanted to help everyone, no matter what. She was not noisy, oh no, she just wanted to help, and I was thinking, is this a diversion? Does she want to hide something from us? The more we got to know her, the more I felt secure in my belief and it turned out that Clara was a much more complex character that we could think at first. Getting to know her story was heart – breaking and sometimes hard to read, but seeing her opening has made my heart sing – she so deserved her happy end.
As well as Rachel – her subplot was truly surprising and sometimes shocking, also not so easy to read, and it’s awoken all kind of emotions in me. To be honest, I at first couldn’t understand why she hasn’t done anything, but the more I read the more I started to understand things, Rachel and the whole situation. How can you help yourself when your whole life you were told what to do and whatever you did was criticised, right? I loved seeing how creative she was, I loved her little rebellions and loved seeing her growing in confidence.
Tassie was a very interesting character and I liked her very much. There was this magical element to her, and not only because she could read tea leaves, but she could also see things in the future and she was very wary about nature, being able to read all the signs it was trying to tell us. However, as much as I liked her, it was a hard cookie to chew, to believe – yes, it was a bit overdone. I get what the author wanted to achieve here, and generally she has managed it, Tassie bringing out all the positive things and changes, but I could really live without this element of magic.
I must admit that the book took me a little by surprise, especially the fact that, except being a charming romance, it also touches upon very heavy issues, bringing tons of depth to the plot and the characters’ development.
Altogether it was a lovely story, but there were too many moments that it simply felt too forced and too clichéd. There were also moments that the story felt so chopped and so abrupt, and I had to check if I’ve missed a page or two. And there were a few things that seemed out of place and the book could do without. Also, I’d love the story to be more ambitious, as the things were either black or white, I’ve missed the shadows between.
“Starting Over at Acorn Cottage” is a story about community, about friendship, courage, strength and keeping together, about forgiveness and kindness. It shows how strong women can be, and that it’s so important to keep your eyes open and see when people need help. The author has a way with words and she knows how to balance lightness and humour with all those heavy issues she has decided to write about – and hats off to her for doing this, as she’s touched upon issues that are not easy to be talked about. This book made me smile and it made me think, personally I enjoyed the story very much.
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