This is a review with a difference in that I can’t actually find this book anywhere for you to read yourself.
A choice from the Secret Readers Book club offering in September 2020, I have searched Netgalley, Amazon and Goodreads for this title and author and cannot find it. That’s a great shame and all I can think is it isn’t due for publication any time soon. The only concrete thing I can offer is the publisher is Hodder & Stoughton. I had a look on Amazon for the author and found a Karen Turner who writes diet/health books using plant based foods and there is also a series of fiction books written by a Karen Turner which are all historical fiction, the last of which ‘Stormbird’ sounds really good. Whether these are all one and the same author, I have no idea.
However, I had to share this book as I really enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to read and though it did have quite a few spelling errors and typo’s (perhaps this is such an early copy it may not have been proof read yet) it didn’t distract from what was a heartwarming read. Sorry but there isn’t even a book cover to show you!
About the Book
Pearl Winter hasn’t left her house in over forty years, not since she arrived on Dartmoor as a teenager to live with her mother and stepfather. Now they are gone and she is completely alone, kept company only by the crows outside her window and by the troubled memories that keep her trapped inside.
In the nearby village, 18-year-old Connor Matthews is lacking any kind of routine. His mother’s sudden death and his father’s ghastly remarriage have left him feeling like a stranger in his own home. There’s no way he can spend the summer indoors – so he applies for the job of Pearl’s gardener for the summer.
Pearl and Connor’s lives couldn’t be more different. But as they gradually form an unlikely friendship, they begin to help each other to make some small changes. Because sometimes it only takes one little step to change your life – if you can be brave enough to take it.
What I thought
There seems to be a growing number of books based on this kind of story line – intergenerational relationships form where the boldness of the young help out the more mature character and in turn the wisdom of those who have ‘lived’ help out the young. Yes it’s been done before in a similar vein to Ruby Hummingbird, Beth Morrey with Saving Missy, and Phaedra Patrick to name but a few. But I absolutely love them. Such a gentle and heartwarming read, it’s like wrapping yourself up in a cosy blanket and being reminded that there are good, kind people out there who can find themselves stuck in a rut and very lonely through no fault of their own.
So the story revolves around Pearl, now in her late 50’s Pearl has lived on Dartmoor in an isolated house with her mother and step-father since moving there as a teenager. We never find out until almost the end of the book why Pearl’s parents fled there in the summer of 1976 but Pearl has come to more or less accept her life as it is.
When her parents both die within a short time of each other, Pearl finds herself living alone and isolated. She decides to advertise for a gardener to attend to her now, very much overgrown and neglected garden. 18 year old Connor applies for the job.
Connor lives with his father and step-mother. Since the death of Connor’s beloved mother to cancer and after the re-marriage of his father to a woman who makes no disguise of the fact that Connor is in the way and she wants rid, Connor wants to earn some money so he can get away from his now miserable existence at home.
There are lots of supporting characters in the book to make it always entertaining. Connor’s best friend Derek who has aspirations to become trainee manager at the co-op where he works. As well as Derek’s family and other friends.
Running parallel is the story of Nate. He’s also fast approaching 60 and single. After being made redundant he volunteers at an animal rescue charity. Here he meets some new friends. It helps to take him out of himself but there is much more to Nate’s story than just his friendships at the animal sanctuary. He has links to Pearl, though neither are aware of each other’s current existence.
I really enjoyed the book. It has many different story threads running through, with all the characters connected in one way or another, but each with their own very different problems and stories to tell. Pity you can’t read it really!
If I ever see it around, perhaps under a different title maybe, I’ll be sure to let you all know.
♥ Happy Reading (if you can find the book) ♥
With thanks to Secret Readers for a copy of this secret book.