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Aunt Ivy's Cottage

by Kristin Harper

Rating: ****

Zoey Jansen has been staying with her Great Aunts Sylvia and Ivy in their rambling old cottage on Dune Island. Zoey has escaped to the childhood holiday home leaving behind unemployment and a traumatic break-up. When Sylvia dies and Zoey remains on the Island to look after Ivy, family secrets, issues and confrontations come flooding to the surface…

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage is an absorbing, enjoyable novel. It really is a ‘curl up for a couple of hours and forget the world’ read. You are immediately transported to the cottage, Dune Island and the lives of these two aunts and their descendants. The relationship between Zoey and her aunts is affectionately portrayed. The beginning immediately notifies the reader to the intrigue and the plot twists, turns and hints before finally unravelling the mystery. It’s hard to put down and the final revelation was a surprise. Ms Harper clearly constructed the narrative very thoughtfully; lots of backstory and descriptive detail is woven throughout and the reader gains a very clear sense of who Ivy, Zoey and Sylvia are and were and their lives on Dune Island. This comprehensive character development does make for a leisurely pace but, on the whole, the gradual tempo suits the plot and the prose is breezy enough that it does not hinder your enjoyment. I also thought, Jessica, Zoey’s sister, was sharply realised despite no longer being alive and the arrival on Dune Island of her daughter, Gabi, gave a nice diversion to the main plot. Nick and his son, Aidan, were an equally good addition although I would have liked the chemistry between Nick and Zoey to have sparked a little earlier. At times, I found Zoey a bit of a martyr. It would have been gratifying to have seen her confront Mark more. He is an unpleasant character and, although the conflict between him and Zoey forms the core of the story, I felt he needed challenging; he gets away with too much and resultingly, I thought his behaviour at the end of the novel was slightly out of character. Despite this, editing was faultless and Ms Harper has a lovely, light touch to her writing which makes you smile.

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage is a sweetly satisfying and involving read with a wonderfully realised setting that neatly straddles romance and mystery. Highly recommended. Buy from:

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