April Wilson has lost herself.
After her husband Graham passed away from Motor neurone disease, a disease that attacked his body from the inside out and took his zest for life from him, April is at wits end. She spent so long taking care of him that she forgot to take care of herself.
He died eighteen months ago and she is still grieving. She’s unable to move on with her life without Graham in it. Too often, she will curl up with one of Graham’s shirts, watching their wedding video.
It’s her step-daughter, twenty-two-year-old Nancy, that gives April the push she needs to live her life again. When April receives a birthday card from her great aunt Edie, Nancy tells April that she should go and visit her aunt in the picture perfect village of Tindledale and her home Orchard Cottage. April has fond memories of the orchard and Edie from her youth, so April encourages her to go and see her aunt.
When she arrives, it’s to find the cottage in disrepair and her aunt Edie keeps referring to her as Winnie. April soon learns that this is Edie’s sister. The gossip around Tindledale is that Winnie ran off during the Second World War and had a baby with a married man. She was an officer with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, or FANY.
April can’t help but think there is more to Winnie than the gossip around town. She turns to other villagers around Tindledale to help her dig through the mystery that is part of her history. One of those villagers happens to be Matt, a local farrier and single father. April can’t deny her growing attraction to Matt either.
With the help of the other villagers and her step-daughter Nancy and Matt, she hopes to put the final pieces of the puzzle together and solve the mystery of Orchard Cottage…
I flat out loved this book. If ever there was a book that you wanted to hug, this one was it. Alex Brown continues to surprise and impress me. This isn’t your normal chick lit. It deals with subjects that normally aren’t covered in the genre: death and disease, aging and Alzheimer’s, World War and the affects that it had on families during the time, step families, life after love and secrets brought to the grave. It goes beyond the genre of chick lit and instead becomes something else all its own.
For all of that, The Secret of Orchard Cottage succeeds because it has so much heart. Every subject the book touches on is done with grace and beauty and this comes through in the pages. This is helped along by the fact that the characters are so real, so lifelike, that hey live off the page and in our hearts.
After three books at Tindledale, it feels like home. Though it’s a postcard perfect town, there are always stories to be told. Alex Brown tells those stories so well, I feel like I know them. Sonny and Cher, Hettie, Sybs and Ben, Meg and Dan. Getting to read another Tindledale book is like going out to the pub with all my best mates.
April’s character really spoke to me. Reading her journey as she grew from this woman who could only mourn what she had had into a woman who chose to live her life and learn to love again was amazing and so emotional for me. This book held a lot of emotional triggers for me (living with a disease, finding love again, loving myself again). It shows the brilliance of Alex Brown’s writing that she was able to evoke all of that within me.
I can’t wait to read the next adventure and to go home to Tindledale once more!