Ella Montclair has a fairly unconventional life in the countryside. Her estranged husband lives in an out building across the way from the old farmhouse she shares with her distant teenage children, unruly dogs and gender confused chickens.
She has somehow struck a kind of semblance of balance between her awkward family, her career as an illustrator and her dream of an affair with the local garden designer. But things become even more complicated with the breakdown of her own parents’ marriage and her hostile mother moves into the already strained commune of the farm.
As she strives to hold everything together, with the means to an affair mounting, Ella finds herself looking more closely at her own life and where things went wrong.
This was my first read of a Catherine Alliott novel and it’s not something I would normally go for straight away but I did quite like it in the end. Lots of time is spent getting to know the characters and their messy personal lives, and also setting the countryside scenes. Once the storyline really got going I got stuck in. Ella is a scatty heroine; full of good intentions that don’t always work out. At times she was a little to harebrained for my liking, but in the end I liked how all the situations were resolved.
I think this is definitely a story you can relate to if you have or have had teenage children, are married and/or separated, as it covers a lot of issues prevalent in adult life. The unusual collection of animals on the farm, and the clutch of crazy characters from the village add a nice touch of humour to the tale. Overall I think this is a charming, summery read from a bestseller of women’s fiction.