Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
Paperback, 365 pages

Published 26th September by Quercus
Shelves: adult-fiction, arc-or-review, books-i-own, chick-lit, cover-appeal, mum-has, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Amelia has a dream: toasting chestnuts by the fire with her husband Jack in their own cosy cottage. Their real life is another world - a cramped one-bedroom flat in Hackney. But when life takes a surprising turn, removal vans are soon heading to the Kent countryside.

They soon realise the cottage makeover is a far bigger project than they'd anticipated. On top of that, there's Amelia's newly loved-up mum and her tearaway half-sister, Mirabel, to contend with - pushing Amelia and Jack's marriage to breaking point.

Amelia begins to strip back the wallpaper and fittings in the cottage and discovers the story of the cottage's previous owner - and a hidden secret. As Amelia's ideas about love and family change, will her fireside dream finally come true?

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is one of those books that I just looked at and sighed - for positive reasons! As soon as I saw the gorgeous seasonal cover with the shiny autumnal covers and the soothing mention of  a fireside, I knew that this would be a perfect book to read as the nights started drawing in.

This book introduces us to Amelia, our protagonist, who has, after years, grown tired of her urban home and lifestyle. Amelia isn't completely unhappy though, as she lives with her long-term partner, lives nearby to some close friends and has a job that she's passionate about, teaching kids at St. Catherine's school. Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is about Amelia making her 'Fireside dream' come true, as she moves out of the city and into the countryside with the aim of having a more relaxed, rural life. As always in life, unfortunately not everything can be perfect, and we follow Amelia as she works hard to make her newly-bought, but rather outdated, country house into a home. 

Amelia is a wonderful protagonist because she is simply human - the author doesn't make any attempts to make her a particularly remarkable character in any way, which is exactly why she is so easy to connect with - Amelia is certainly not perfect, but she tries her best and makes an effort in what she does, she's ambitious but somewhat cautious and yes, she makes quite a few mistakes. What I liked reading about most in regards to Amelia was her relationships - those with her friends, her partner and her family. Amelia's two best friends, Carly and Sunita, live in the city and I really liked reading about their close friendships, there was a real sense of comfort and trust between them which was really comforting to read about. I liked reading about Amelia's relationship with her family too, her parents, but mostly her sister, Mirabel who is a bit of a teenage rebel, but who Amelia manages to really take under her wing. 

A large part of this book is focused on Amelia's relationship with her long term partner Jack. Initially, Jack isn't completely sold on moving to the countryside, but despite that, they take the leap and purchase a house which needs a lot of work. As there is so much to do with the house and as Jack has a lot on at work, things become stretched. Their relationship was certainly not perfect, there were some quite significant flaws and weaknesses, but again this really made the book feel realistic. Despite the issues, it was very clear that there was chemistry between the couple and I could see that the two had a loving relationship. I was torn with what would become of the couple as the book progressed - I really couldn't predict what would happen with them or if their relationship under the new circumstances.  

I also can't forget to mention that there is a fantastic subplot to this book where we are introduced to some mystery items which have been left in the house by the previous owner - I became so excited at these parts, wondering who they belonged to, what the story was behind the letters and items. Though everything was tied up at the end, I do wish that there was even more exploration of this subplot as it did have me on the edge of my seat.

As this is a book about restoring and redecorating an old country house, any of you who are interested in interior design, homeware, crafts and/or Pinterest will definitely have a soft-spot for this book! Many of the chapters in this book start with mood boards, conjuring up Amelia's dream designs for her home and it will definitely get your imagination going, if not making you want to start handcrafting things for your own home! 

Overall, this was a really pleasant read which I enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who is wanting something that is easy to read and relax with. The pace of this book is relaxed though never boring and you will find the time slipping away without you noticing as you keep turning page after page. Highly recommended!


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