Book of the Week, women's fiction

Book of the Week: Appleby Farm

I read a lot of books while we were on holiday, but this week’s book of the week is Cathy Bramley’s Appleby Farm which I started before we went away and finished after we got back*. That said, while I was on holiday I read parts two and three of Bramley’s latest serialisation and really liked them too, so it seemed like a really obvious choice.

So, Appleby Farm (which came out as a e-book partwork earlier this year before the paperback release) tells the story of Freya, who starts the book working in a cafe near the Ivy Lane allotments that featured in Bramley’s book from earlier this year.  But soon she gets an SOS call from her auntie, and heads up to the Lake District farm where she grew up after her uncle has a heart attack.  Soon she’s torn between the boyfriend down south and the farm that she loves.

I really liked Freya.  She’s a really well put together character, who has flaws and issues but is really, really likeable.  And as the granddaughter of a farmer (on both sides) and with three farms in the extended family (and another couple of cousins working in agriculture/agribusiness as well) the farm setting really worked for me.  I loved reading about Freya’s plans for the farm as she tries to help her auntie and uncle.  I wouldn’t say I’m a farming connoisseur, but I know the basics, and I didn’t spot any glaring errors in the farming facts, which was great.

I also didn’t notice the joins between the parts in this as much as I did when when I read Ivy Lane.  Appleby Farm, although it’s still divided into sections, seemed to flow better, with less building to cliff hangers which were rapidly/immediately resolved at the start of the next part.  It definitely feels more like a novel, than a part-work that’s been stitched together.

I’ve mentioned (many times) before that I’m not a great candidate for serialisations.  I don’t like cliffhangers – one year I waited til the start of the new season of Greys Anatomy before watching the end of the previous one so I wouldn’t be left in suspense – and when I find a series I like I like to be able to read on and read more (25 Janet Evanovich books in five months anyone?), but I really do like Cathy Bramley’s work.  As I mentioned further up, I read two parts of Wickham Hall during the holiday, and whilst I want to know what’s happening next (and have the book on preorder) I finished each part with a smile on my face having enjoyed seeing what had happened rather than angry that I’ve been left hanging.

Roll on Part four of Wickham Hall – and I really need to get my hands on Conditional Love too.

Appleby Farm was all over the supermarkets when it came out in August – and I’m hoping it’ll still be there and in the bookshops, but if you can’t wait – here’s the Kindle, Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones and as an extra special bonus, here’s Wickham Hall: Part One and Ivy Lane (both for kindle).

* I have a rule about not taking books that I’ve already started away on holiday with me.

fiction, reviews

Review: Ivy Lane – Spring

Anyone who has read my review of Part One of Harriet Evans’ latest novel will know that I’m not the best candidate to read serialisations, or stories in parts, but when this popped up in my timeline as being available on Netgalley I snapped it up as I’ve seen a lot of good things about Ivy Lane which is a serialised novel from Cathy Bramley.

And I enjoyed it as I read it on the train in to work.  It’s light and easy to read – which is exactly what you want at 4.30 in the morning (don’t ask) and it zips along at a nice pace.  I like the characters that have been introduced and the setting and Tilly is an engaging female lead.  My only grip – if it is one – is that I don’t know what Tilly’s secret is (I can’t be more specific than that without giving away plot points) and it’s starting to feel a little dragged out.  But that just be me and my need to know!

This is the sort of book that I’d usually leave until all four parts have been released to sample – so that if I like it I can read my way through the whole lot and find out the resolution.  But if you can cope with the waiting better than me, then the anticipation may be just what you’re looking for and this series will be a nice treat for you to dip into as the seasons pass and the new instalments appear.

Ivy Lane: Spring is available here from Amazon and Summer is also already available.  Autumn is due on September 4 and Winter at the start of November.