February 15, 2022
Cottage Two, Bracken Ridge Farm sits at the end of a pitted track, with the glorious Yorkshire moors stretching behind it.
Just a simple two up, two down, the cottage holds the promise of a new start for two very different women, but it is also full of secrets.
Fifty years ago, newly-wed Stella is relishing making the little cottage a happy home. But for all the lovingly handmade curtains, and the hot dinners ready on the table for her husband, Stella’s dreams of married life jar painfully with the truth.
Fifty years later, the cottage is a new beginning for Tamzin. Determined to get away from her previous life, she makes the move to the wild and vast Yorkshire countryside.
When Tamzin finds a sepia photo of a woman, Stella, standing in the cottage’s garden, there’s a sadness in her eyes that Tamzin recognises. As the cottage reveals more of its secrets, Tamzin is desperate to find out whether Stella got her happy ending. And as she gradually makes new friends, and starts to win over her mysterious neighbour Euan, Tamzin dares to dream about her own happy ending too…
Jane Lovering is one of those writers who just immediately draws you into her story, making you forget that time is passing and you might have things to do. This is true even for stories where the topic (abuse) might be one you avoid reading, which is the case in A Cottage Full of Secrets. I do avoid reading about abuse in the same way that I avoid stories in which I know the dog is going to die. However, fortunately, Lovering didn’t focus extensively on those scenes of abuse, which made it easier to read.
Tamzin is escaping a very bad relationship in the South of England by fleeing to an isolated cottage adjacent to the Yorkshire moors. In that same cottage, 50 years earlier, a young newlywed, Stella, is bright eyed at the beginning of her marriage, a marriage that everyone around her questioned her about (Are you sure?), but she loves Andy and he loves her and everything will be wonderful. But sometimes things don’t turn out so wonderfully.
I loved the characters in A Cottage Full of Secrets from Tamzin who is once again finding herself, to brash Jill, the handyperson, to next-door neighbor Euan, a wildlife artist. And let’s not forget about Brack the fox that Tamzin has raised to adulthood. Lovering does an excellent job of showing the manipulative traits of abusers like Tamzin’s ex-boyfriend, Dom, and Stella’s husband, Andy.
There are many heartfelt moments, especially with the rehabilitating of Brack, which I found to be analogous to Tamzin’s own rehabilitating. The descriptions of the Yorkshire countryside made me feel like I was there, and I kind of wish I were, well, in warm weather.
Lovering’s sense of humor is well in place as Tamzin tries to decorate and renovate her cottage. Her struggles with the fireplace definitely made me laugh.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the use of coincidence in backgrounds. Here I would definitely adhere to the adage: less is more. Sorry for the general statement. I think anything more specific would lend itself to a spoiler.
Overall, another fantastic read from Jane Lovering.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 butterflies