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27 January 2016

Rambling About.. Trisha Ashley's A Winter's Tale

Title: A Winter's Tale
Author: Trisha Ashley
Publication: 17 November 2008 - Avon
Amazon Description: A charming romantic comedy about a hard-up single mum inheriting a stately home – and a host of headaches. The perfect novel for curling up with during the long winter nights.
Sophy Winter is not your typical Lady of the Manor. When she unexpectedly inherits Winter's End – a crumbling mansion in the beautiful Lancashire countryside – it seems like all Sophy's prayers have been answered.
But the house is decrepit and its eccentric inhabitants are a nightmare. And once it is discovered that Winter's End played host to a young Shakespeare, the entire village of Sticklepond becomes curious about Sophy's plans, especially charming Jack Lewis. But is he really smitten by Sophy…or her newly-acquired cash?
Meanwhile, Sophy’s gorgeous head gardener Seth is the strong and silent type. But does his passion bloom for anything beyond the horticultural?
A charming romantic comedy for fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell – guaranteed to thaw the coldest of hearts!

First Line: 
No house as ancient as Winter's End was ever entirely silent : even at eight years old, Sophy Winter knew that. 

Favorites on 4s:  
14% - I had thought I was a piece of insignificant flotsam swept along on the tide of life, but now suddenly I saw that everything I had learned, every single experience that had gone into moulding me, had been leading up to my return.
44% - Then suddenly it felt as though someone had poured a bucket of iced ectoplasm down my back and Alys's translucent face materialized, palely glimmering, from the darkness behind Jack.

74% - Into the slightly crackling silence a ghost from the past, in the form of a rather posh voice with the faintest hint of a Scottish lilt, demanded 'Sophy, is that you? Sophy, are you there?'

When I first grabbed the book and read the Amazon write-up I was expecting a typical chick lit. Girl meets boy ... and another boy ... and has to choose and blah blah blah cozy cozy mushy mushy. I was hoping that the crumbling mansion  and Shakespeare bit would help make the mushy mushy a little less tedious. Now I'm wondering if whoever wrote the bit for Amazon had actually really read the book?!?

They did get the basics right -- Sophy inherited Winter's End. 

It was her grandfather's house and she had lived there with her stoner hippie New Agey mom until she was nine years old (or so ... it was either eight or nine). Shortly after they left thirty(ish) years ago, a distant male cousin named Jack was sent to live there on school holidays.  He had assumed that he would be the one to inherit the property. When Sophy returned and decided that it was where she belonged and that she would do whatever it took to save it, she was met with opposition from some. She was also met with a great deal of support from others, though -- including the ghost of Alys Blezzard who had lived there in the 1580s and was Sophy's childhood "imaginary" friend.

I think that some of my favorite bits were the ones surrounding Alys. Each chapter started with an excerpt from her journal and written with the spelling and grammar appropriate to her time period. I was actually tempted a time or two (or three or four) to skip from chapter to chapter just reading those bits so I could find out her story that much faster before returning to the "present" ... but I held off and read them properly.

Anyway, Sophy immediately got to work cleaning and restoring the house and I actually found that part fascinating. I typically despise cleaning and would much rather stay curled up with a book and let the dust settle where it will around me but reading about how she went about her restoration and the treasures that were uncovered once the grime was gone almost made me want to buy some cleaning supplies and get to work. Almost. (My house was built in 1991 and had only ever had one other owner before I bought it in 2004. No secret treasures there aside from things I've probably forgotten buying.)

There is "romance" but it's not the first and foremost focus of the story. One character tried to make it so but .... ugh. Just so much ughI can't remember the last time I wanted to punch a character so hard in the face. Luckily, though, all's well that ends well. In spite of face-punching urge,s that all turned out to be much ado about nothing and this still ended up being a book full of mystery and laughs and gumption and heart. 

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