23 March 2013

Escape to Mulberry Cottage by Victoria Connelly

Who hasn't spent time during a drive in the countryside glancing at cosy homes set back from the road and sighed just a little bit?  There was a time during my twenties when living smack dab in the middle of a bustling city would have been the ultimate in convenience, not to mention cool.  I still enjoy a day out amongst skyscrapers, shops and sidewalks streaming with people but my ultimate living experience these days would be a rural home with an Aga warming the kitchen.  And since it's my fantasy we're talking about, a little stream running nearby would be extra nice...please and thank you.

A little while ago, Victoria Connelly kindly asked if I would like to read her book Escape to Mulberry Cottage.  These days my books of choice were published during the last century but I couldn't resist exploring the journey of a couple who made the decision to exchange Heathrow's flight paths for rolling hills and garden space.  To say farewell to the highpitched whine of leaf blowers, loud neighbours, constant construction and other people's music...whose taste never seems to match your own.

Victoria's husband, Roy, is a painter and spends large amounts of time capturing the beauty found in outdoor scenery.  Spurned on by the tributes of cottage life by friends and fellow painters the couple pondered whether or not it was financially feasible, not to mention practical, to contemplate such a move.  Once they began to look at property listings it was difficult not to fall in love and picture themselves puttering around garden plots with Mother Nature at every turn.

After a few disappointments, Victoria spied a listing for a property in Suffolk called Mulberry Cottage.

'Ever-practical, Roy tried to keep me in check but he couldn't deny how pretty the cottage was as we opened the little gate and walked up the flower-lined path.  It really was the loveliest cottage garden with yellow and pink hollyhocks, bright crocosmia and a crab apple tree.  It didn't have roses around the door but I immediately planted some in my mind's eye.'   

An offer was placed and after a bit of going back and forth a deal was finally reached.  Victoria received word while on the quiet carriage of a train so restraint was called for but can't you just imagine her excitement?  All that was left to do was wait for their moving day to inch ever closer...and buy some battery hens.  Well, you can't have all that space and not have chickens!

By now, as a reader, I was completely sucked into the story of Victoria and Roy's move to their new home.  Oh my heavy heart at the description of her new feathered friends rescued from a life of servitude as battery hens.  Actually they were missing a lot of their feathers come to think of it!  When moving day finally came and night fell the reality of life off of the beaten path struck them in the darkness.  Literally.  Without streetlights they needed a torch to find their way along the path to their nearest neighbours.  Something I hadn't even considered in my own country-living fantasies.

Escape to Mulberry Cottage is such a heartwarming read and I so enjoyed rooting for Victoria and her husband in their quest to find a cottage to call their own.  A quick read, it was over all too soon.  With any luck Victoria has plans for more stories from Mulberry Cottage; if I may be so bold as to suggest life in the countryside through a calendar year as a subject?  You know, for those of us poor things who still have to live vicariously through such lucky people.  Thank you for sharing your book with me, Victoria.  All the best!
 

12 comments:

  1. How delightful - both the life and the book!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ex-battery hens. I love the concept.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The before and after photos of battery hens given a new home are so inspiring. If you had the space I can only imagine it would be so hard not to just keep them coming!

      Delete
  3. Thinking of your wish for a country house by the calendar year book, I wanted to recommend Susan Hill's The Magic Apple Tree. It's very out of print but with your librarian superpowers you can probably find it. I'm going to look for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh darn it, just checked the library catalogue and no luck. An inter-library loan would probably turn it up though...there's some business with a few 'must reads' to get through first. Isn't there always?!

      Delete
  4. Thank you so much for the lovely review and - to everyone who wants to move to the countryside - keep the dream alive! It took us a long time before we were finally able to leave London but it was the best decision we've ever made!

    Audrey - The Magic Apple Tree is one of my favourite books. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pleasure was all mine, Victoria, and all the best with your new hens!

      Delete
  5. Lovely! I adore reading about other people's country escapes, though I am not particularly eager to attempt one of my own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well should I ever be so lucky as to have a home in the countryside you can come for a stay and then pack up and return to the city, Claire. Perhaps those gorgeous mountain views you have would be much too hard to give up?

      Delete
  6. It appears that this book is only available on Kindle! I want a paperback, boo-hoo!
    Margaret P

    ReplyDelete
  7. galant - we're hoping to bring out a paperback soon. So sorry to disappoint you now. If you sign up for my newsletter, you'll be notified as soon as it's out: http://victoriaconnelly.com/newsletter/

    ReplyDelete