Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Book review: Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley

I've just come up for air after being engrossed in Ivy Lane - a fabulous read that literally suits all seasons!

Firstly can I just mention the absolutely BEAUTIFUL cover? It truly is one of my favourites so far this year, it's so pretty. I just couldn't help but keep looking at it as it sat on my coffee table on the (very few) occasions it wasn't in my hands!

Ivy Lane was originally released for Kindle as a 4 book series, covering all seasons. It was so popular (and I can see why!) that in February it was released as a full book, pulling all the seasons together. I read the full book rather than the separate kindle versions and really, I'm quite pleased I did, as I don't think I'd have been able to wait between the seasons!

The book follows Tilly, who moves to a new village and takes on an allotment plot following the unexpected death of her Husband, James. In the small allotment community she finds a whole host of different personalities - there's Christine, the pushy but enthusiastic committee chair, Gemma - a loud & funny character who shares a plot with Tilly and Charlie - a handsome, quiet man who develops a soft spot for Tilly. That's just to name a few! The characters jump off the page and you become engrossed in their world - it made me want to pick up a trowel and shovel and join in the Ivy Lane community- they have such fun! I really have a soft spot for Tilly - I sympathised with her and willed her to make a start at a new, pain-free life. I find myself missing her already, she is an engaging, caring character that I really enjoyed finding out about.

My only hesitation when I picked up this book was that it would be too gardening-focused. I'm not very green fingered and didn't really want to read all about the best technique for growing potatoes or picking sweet peas. But actually, the gardening element really shows off Cathy's brilliance - there is enough detail to give you a great picture of the allotment, to know how Tilly struggles at first but then gets into it, and to build up a picture in your head of all the different fruits and vegetables brightening up the allotment (especially in the summer), but it isn't at all overwhelming. The story focuses more on the friendships and relationships throughout the allotment and the gardening plays an important part of that, but isn't drawn out or boring - I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed reading about carrots and apples!

The split-season element is brilliant and makes the story fast-paced, it's definitely one of my favourite things about this book and reflects Cathy's unique style. I love how the book literally transports you into the season you're reading. As I was reading Ivy Lane, it was Easter weekend and when I read the 'Spring' section of the book, I felt just like real life - Easter egg hunts were happening in my life AND in Ivy Lane and it made it engaging and realistic. Saying that, later on I was reading about a halloween party and then the annual Ivy Lane Christmas party, all whilst the sun was shining on the book as I read. Despite this, I still felt a part of the Christmas celebrations and it gave me a craving for a mince pie and glass of Baileys! Again, this really shows Cathy's brilliance in making a story and characters come alive.

There had been a lot of hype surrounding Ivy Lane and I can COMPLETELY see why. It is a fantastic read that has you drawn in from Spring to Winter! Cathy's latest series, Appleby Farm, is also split into 4 e-books (the first 3 are available to buy on amazon for a bargain 99p each!) This time I couldn't wait for the full book to be released - I've already downloaded the first three to my kindle to read and am eagerly awaiting part 4, which is out on May 4th.

Ivy Lane is a brilliant read whatever the season with an engaging host of characters and a wonderful location. I absolutely loved it, and it has firmly put Cathy on my radar and up there as one of my favourite authors - she is witty, creative and downright talented. 

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