Synopsis: Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from his ex-wife Ella’s ramshackle farmhouse. With a home crowded by hostile teenaged children and gender-confused chickens, Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo. Then Sebastian decides to move on, catching Ella horribly unawares.
How much longer can she hide from what really destroyed her marriage… and the secret she continues to keep?
Kat’s Rating: 3/5
Kat’s Review: I’ve been reading Catherine Alliott’s books for many years and was looking forward to starting this one. However, for some reason by the time I had finished the book I just thought it was okay, just that…okay. Ella and her artist husband Sebastian separated and the end result is now two lazy teenage children and Sebastian living in an outhouse on the farm. This means that Ella is left with holiday guests to look after, the children to wait on hand and foot, and to add to the mix her Mother comes to stay after herself experiencing marital difficulties.
Ella was a nice enough character and the storyline trundled along, but it was lacking that normal sparkle that her books have, such as ‘A Rural Affair’. We also meet Ginnie who is Ella’s sister and although her life looks to be perfect, it may just be that appearances are deceptive. On the whole the book is certainly readable, no doubt about that, but I just felt like I was waiting for something else to happen. It seemed to be middle of the road and the attempts at secrets and character changes just seemed stilted and forced.
I was disappointed but only because I have previously really enjoyed some of her books. It certainly wasn’t a bad read; it just wasn’t what I expected. I will look forward to the next one and hope that Catherine Alliott returns to that magic sparkle that her books normally have.
My Rating: 4/5
Kat’s Review: I have read all of Catherine Alliott’s books and looked forward to another (hopefully) good read. When I ordered my book from Amazon I couldn’t help but notice that there were already 4 reviews, 2 of which loved it and 2 of which loathed it. I was quite surprised by such an extreme reaction.
Having now read the book I can understand why there was such a divide. Happily for me I liked this book. In the intro of the book we meet Poppy, the wife who sometimes resents her mean husband. The type of lady that can have bad thoughts about her husband, although she may not want those bad things to actually take place! As soon as I had read the first chapter I realised that I loved this type of character. The one which isn’t all sweetness and light, the sort of woman that certainly isn’t perfect and has the occasional dream about the what-if’s.
In addition to Poppy we meet her three friends, all of whom are not perfect. Her neighbour Jennie with the disastrous husband, newly separated Angie and the older and chain-smoking Peggy. All in all they are a bunch of women who all have their own issues and are far from happy in their own way.
The story is based around Poppy trying to move on and find happiness after the death of her husband. There are a couple of scenes in it that had me laughing out loud even if they were a little far-fetched. I didn’t particularly love the characters individually, I just felt that it was nice to read something that was a little nearer to the truth than some other books you read and made for a refreshing change.
There are other characters that make an appearance such as Jennie’s stepdaughter Frankie and some of the villagers and they all added to the eclectic mix of messed up and confused people trying to make the most of their lives. This book is certainly not romance and roses, but is more a true to life look at real women struggling through trying to make the right decisions. It may not be to everybody’s taste and for those that are maybe not amused by black humour, maybe it’s not for you. I tend to have quite a twisted sense of humour peppered with huge doses of realism so for me this book was perfect. Maybe a slight variation from what she normally writes but I really enjoyed it.
Synopsis: Evie Hamilton has a secret. One she doesn’t even know about . . . yet.
Evie is the wife of successful, handsome husband Ant and mother of high-achieving, accomplished daughter Anna, and her biggest worry in life is whether or not she can fit a manicure in on her way to fetch Anna from clarinet lessons. She doesn’t think about much else outside her own, charmed circle. There simply isn’t time.
But all that is about to change. One sunny Oxford morning a letter – a ticking time-bomb – lands on Evie’s immaculate doormat and up ends Evie’s comfortable life. Something she could never have anticipated has been waiting in the wings to sabotage everything she holds dear, and it’s not going away. She will have to reappraise everything in her carefully arranged universe.
But Evie is a fighter and she will fight for what she loves. And in the process, find there is more to her than she thought, and more to her life.
What will remain? What will change for ever? And can a woman’s entire world really be as fragile as her best china?
Kat’s Rating: 4/5
Kat’s Review: The secret life of Evie Hamilton was a great book that was a refreshing change to the normal thrillers I have been consuming in large numbers recently. Catherine Alliott has created a great character, somebody that isn’t perfect and would be an ideal best friend! She is warm and funny yet slightly on the ditzy side. Evie is married to Ant and they have a daughter Anna. The whole family plays a part in this funny story, including Evies sister in Law Caro who is a force to be reckoned with. There is a major shock in store for Evie when she discovers something about Ants past which will disrupt and could possibly destroy all of their lives. Give it a go if you have never read her books.