This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Freya has enjoyed the challenges of working in a café round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments, but she’s getting restless. Although she has made good friends in the area and has found herself a gorgeous boyfriend, Freya can’t shake the feeling that she simply hasn’t found her place in the world just yet. When her Auntie Sue phones with the bad news that her Uncle Arthur’s health is declining, she feels compelled to return to Appleby Farm, where she was raised, and lend a helping hand. When her visit, intended to be short, keeps getting extended, Freya finds herself increasingly entangled in farm life and starts to wonder whether the farm might be the place for her.
Freya was first introduced in the Ivy Lane series of four short novellas, which have now been released as a full length novel. (Appleby Farm is to follow the same pattern, but I was lucky enough to receive all four parts for review.) I felt at home and amongst friends straight away as this is where the story begins. Some of my favourite characters, including Tilly and Gemma, make appearances throughout the novel too. Freya was one of the more peripheral characters in the Ivy Lane series, but this novel focuses on her. With her slightly strange upbringing, differing family members and independent personality, Freya makes an interesting and likeable character. The story is told from her point of view, which made me feel like I was making discoveries about her life along with her.
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The setting of Appleby Farm and the surrounding area of Lovedale are brought to life through Bramley’s wonderful description that’s weaved effortlessly into the story. Although I know very little about farming, I soon became immersed in Appleby Farm and desperate to know whether the troubles it and the owners faced would be resolved. I came to understand the value of long, tiring hours spent looking after the land and animals, and desperately wanted the traditions to be continued by the next generations of the family. Freya has all these amazing ideas of how to bring the farm into the present and increase its earning capabilities but there seems to be so much against her. Bramley has the ability to create irresistible cliff-hangers that kept me reading on and on, and made me feel genuine sympathy for other readers having to wait for the next instalment; though, I can tell you, it’s definitely worth the wait!Bramley has the ability to create not just loveable characters, but a loveable community that you will want to be part of.