Reviewed by Debs Carr
When artist Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will be the fresh start she and her step-daughter Hannah desperately need.
Trevenen is beautiful but neglected, a rambling house steeped in history. Maddie is enchanted by it and determined to learn as much as she can about its past. As she discovers the stories of generations of women who've lived there before, Maddie begins to feel her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.
But Maddie's dream of a calm life in the countryside is far from the reality she faces. Still struggling with her grief and battling with Hannah, Maddie is unable to find inspiration for her painting and realises she may face the prospect of having to sell Trevenen, just as she is coming to love it.
And as Maddie and Hannah pull at the seams of Trevenen's past, the house reveals secrets that have lain hidden for generations.
Can a house heal a broken heart?
I began reading this book and was instantly transported into the mysterious ramshackle house (of my dreams) that Maddie had inherited shortly after her artist husband John had died. Maddie has no idea why the mysterious Daphne Penventon left the house to her. She has little choice but to try and make some sort of future in the dusty building for her and her grieving step-daughter, Hannah. Unfortunately for Maddie, Hannah is determined not to get on along her and also to make Maddie pay for taking her away from all that she knows for this unwelcome fresh start in the middle of nowhere in Trevenen.
Soon after their arrival in Cornwall their car breaks down and Maddie and Hannah are helped by Mark, a handsome local who hides secrets and heartbreak of his own. Hannah can see the attraction between Maddie and Mark and although she isn't exactly fond of her step-mother, Maddie is the only person she has left in this world and she has no intention of losing her to Mark. Hannah hates Trevenen and refuses to make life easy for either herself or her step-mother. Slowly each of them begin to make their own friends and find a connection with the place, through the house and also through the relationships they build.
This is a book about loss, misguided decisions, heartbreak and change, but it's also one about hope, long held secrets and friendships formed between the unlikeliest of people. I opened this book and by the first page I could tell it was the sort of book I always hope to find. I was instantly transported into Maddie’s new home, so beautifully depicted, and to her hopes and anguish at decisions she’s made that cannot be changed, but which continue to haunt her.
This book made me laugh out loud and also cry a few times. I loved it and am going to keep it so that I can read it again at some point.