Top critical review
11 February 2018
I wasn't aware when I purchased this book that it was a sequel. However, this is made abundantly clear as soon as you start reading. The Author has presumed that we, the reader, are already au fait with the world of Rowan Hill and the populace of this idyllic retreat. I nearly gave up because it was a pretty much impenetrable world but I persevered because so much of the tale is from Lizzie's point of view and she is as anew to this world as we are.
Over all I am glad I did as I enjoyed the tale. The plotting is strong, even if a little transparent as to the identity of the person wreaking all these terrible wrongs in the Tea Shop and Studios. The device of telling the tale from several viewpoints works well as it does allow you to get to know the characters a little more. That said, I found Ellie in particular to be annoying - she just wants everyone to be happy and crashes down in to self-flagellation whenever this goes awry - I desperately wanted to slap her face and tell her to grow up. Lizzie's meekness and anxiety at first annoyed me but as she began to grow and develop a little confidence I did warm to her. Patience, Helen, Jane, Alice and Gins are pretty much closed books to me as they are peripheral to this tale so just fill up page space and the male characters (Will, Ben and Finn) are really just names.
I did find myself getting annoyed at the way Lizzie's background was being dealt with. In many places everyone comes across a little sanctimonious just because she came from a family gripped by poverty so didn't get summer holidays or cinema visits or even nutritious food. I am sure this was not the way the author intended this to come across on the page but, to this reader, it did.
Strangely though, despite all my moaning, I did get sucked in to this peaceful world and found myself reading eagerly on and hoping that Lizzie would be believed. I was even rooting for Ellie's wedding to Will and hoping that all the misunderstandings would get sorted out. I know, I know in this genre they probably did but I still enjoyed getting there.
A solid book that took me quite some time to get into but was worth my perseverance.