Reviewed by Debs Carr
Tansy Poole has had an unusual upbringing. Her ex-model mother, Isobel, left her to be brought up by her great aunt Nan in the tiny village of Sticklepond when Tansy was a baby. Tansy spends her weekdays living with her fiancé Justin in London and earns her living writing her Slipper Monkey children’s books and as a foot model. Tansy desperately wants a family, but seeing as Justin doesn’t believe they should marry until she’s a size 8, she can’t see this happening any time soon. When Nan has a fall, Tansy returns to stay with her for a few weeks, returning to London unexpectedly only to discover the real reason Justin wasn’t in any hurry to get married.
Devastated by her broken engagement, Tansy returns to live in Sticklewood and when her great aunt dies, she makes the most of the legacy Nan has left her and starts turning Nan’s old-fashioned shoe shop into her dream business, Cinderella’s Slippers. Years before when she was working as a model, Tansy’s foot was filmed with budding actor, Ivo Hawksley, playing the part of Prince Charming. Ivo was her first love, he also broke her heart by not turning up to meet her one day and never getting in contact since. Tansy discovers that not only has this newly widowed RSC actor bought the cottage next door to her, but he’s also not the sweet natured boy she remembers. Justin doesn't seem to understand that she has no intention of taking him back and her (not ugly) ex-step sisters won't stop meddling in her life.
The tantalising way Trisha Ashley begins each chapter with a snippet from Nan’s recollections, being taped for the local archives, gives an added insight into Tansy’s past. So, as well as dealing with her struggle to move on from her lengthy engagement to Justin and coping with a morose, Byronic neighbour who complains about everything from her shop’s door chime, to her pet cockerel, Tansy struggles to find a way to cope without her beloved great aunt in her life. It’s only as we near the end of the book that we discover what really did happen in Nan’s past, why Ivo is so miserable and exactly how badly her ex-step sisters have treated her.
Reading a Trisha Ashley book is like revisiting old friends. Favourite Sticklepond residents make a welcome appearance in this book, from Hebe Winter, with her mysterious concoctions, to the ex-heavy rock singer turned vicar, Raffy and handsome gardener, Seth Greenwood from Winter’s End. A heart-warming book for any woman who likes shoes, chocolate and reading about handsome, intriguing men.
Trisha Ashley's website