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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 20 August 2013
if you have a few hours spare this pleasant read in the usual Erica James style is worth buying-based around a country village and a family at a point of crisis. The return of a handsome, wealthy and charismatic man to the village he knew as a poor boy after buying the cottage of the title acts as a catalyst for the events. No one seems to work much or indeed need to do so, and with one exception, almost everyone is unfailingly pleasant. James does children well in my experience, and there's an excellent study of a young girl. Rather frothy, not particularly memorable and certainly not one of her best, lacking the depth, detail and insight of her best books, but nicely written.
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on 4 March 2013
Enjoyable read but predictable and not very meaty. I feel Erica James' layer books have less substance and humour, if applicable, than her earlier books. Great shame as her earlier books were very good.
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on 29 April 2013
It was with some trepidation that I started to read this book because, having enjoyed almost all of Erica James' books, the last two were disappointments for me. However, from the first intriguing chapter I was hopeful, and before long I was certain that this was another good read.

I feel that her style is a little different in this one. There's less humour and not so much evidence of her astounding talent for wry observation. This is not to say that this book merely echoes the lacklustre, contrived and sickly sweet tone of "Promises Promises" and "The Real Katie Lavender". On the contrary, I found much to recommend in this change of direction, since a change in an author's work prevents things from becoming hackneyed.

We still have her wonderfully portrayed, interesting characters. Of particular interest is the character of Tattie. She's a cross between a sort of modern day (not to mention way too old)Pollyanna and the character Isobel from "The Queen of New Beginnings". I did find her perfect mother approach irritating at times, though, and felt she would benefit from being locked in a room until she had read and digested books such as How Not to Be a Perfect Mother, or Confessions of a Slummy Mummy. We still have Erica's insight into human nature and her habit of putting her finger right on the pulse. The added ingredient, which I've never seen in any of her other works, is an atmosphere of mysticism which she manages to let seep through the entire book. There is also more of a philosophical element - in a good way, not in a navel gazing way.

Readers who enjoyed "Promises Promises" may be irritated by what they see as a re-tread, since one of the main premises is that Mia, a middle aged woman stuck in an unsatisfactory marriage, may or may not have the courage to change her life. However, I feel that this latest book succeeds where "Promises Promises" failed, so I don't have a problem with that.

I don't like to say much about the plot because you can easily give away too much. Don't read the quotes from journals on the back of the hardback, because one of them hints at a plot twist which can easily be guessed by seasoned readers of her books, since it has been used before. I'll finish by giving a very brief resume:
The novel opens with Owen Fletcher returning to a village where he lived for a short time as a child. He is full of optimism because he is following through a dream, both literally and metaphorically, and acting on a desire to realise a long-held ambition. This ambition is simply to live in a cottage, but no ordinary cottage. I don't think anyone ever outgrows the childish delight of a secret world, an idyllic hideaway, and this is what we glimpse in the opening chapter. We are soon whisked away and introduced to Mia and her family. Respectable but a bit dysfunctional, this family presents a "normal" face to the world, but each of its members has baggage. The back stories and secrets are trickled out bit by bit in an irrestistible fashion and it all adds up to a very satisfactory book.

As usual Erica makes a complete mess of any scenes of intimacy that she attempts, making me think "Come on Erica, what do you think you're writing - Fifty Shades of Beige???" That is but a small point.

All in all, a very good book.
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on 9 August 2013
Having read all of Erica James books I can honestly say this is another one that I thoroughly enjoyed....it had happiness, sadness and humour. By the end of the book I felt as if I personally knew all the characters and had formed a picture of them all in my mind, as I had the village of Little Pelham. The sooner Erica's next book is published the happier I will be!
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Mia's life is plodding along reasonably happily. Her three children - Jensen, Eliza and Daisy - are grown up though still a worry at times. Then Owen Fletcher - attractive, unattached, and keen to join in with the life of the village moves into the run-down cottage known as The Hidden Cottage. The various events which follow on from that totally disrupt Mia's peaceful life and force her to decide where her priorities and whether she should continue with her marriage to Jeff.

I did enjoy this novel and I liked Owen and Mia and Mia's children. I never felt I got a real picture of Jeff at all and the author's attempts to show the reader what was going on inside his head didn't ring true to me. There was something jarring about the language used that didn't seem right somehow and didn't convey to me what Jeff was really like. He seemed like a caricature rather than a character.

If you want a story about a small group of people in a pleasant village with some added sub plots about the younger generation then you may well enjoy this story. I thought it was written but some sections seemed to me not to be as good as others. I'm sure this author's many fans will enjoy it.
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on 30 October 2013
My first introduction to Erica James, and what a treat!! A wonderful book about life, love, and families. About loss and new beginnings. About different people, different destinies.

There are many players in this story but first of all there is Mia and her family, her husband Jeff and her children Jensen, Eliza and Daisy. Jeff is commuting between home and work in Brussels. He particularly adores his favourite child, young Daisy, and his and Mia's seemingly happy marriage. Mia's world is divided between her family and her hat shop. She loves their home, Medlar House in the picturesque village of Little Pelham, and with her close friends Muriel and Georgina she is fairly content with her life.

Until Owen Fletcher moves into The Hidden Cottage. As a child Owen grew up in the village and used to visit spinster sisters Gretchen and Lillian and their piano playing in The Hidden Cottage. Now he has sold his business in London and decided to start a new life in Little Pelham.

Little Pelham is a small village where everybody know each other and Owen soon gets acquainted with both Mia and her family, Muriel and Georgina, and is introduced to every aspect of village life.

When Mia's family is gathering to celebrate Jensen's thirtieth birthday, Jensen brings with him a girlfriend with a nine year old daugther and Daisy is dropping a most unexpected bombshell. It soon appears to be a turning point in all their lives and Mia's world is changed forever.

Good and bad, unhappy and happy. Life in all its facets. Erica James tells this story with much warmth and insight. This is not easy chicklit, in fact its surprising that the style of the book cover indicates a typical chicklit tale. Nothing wrong with that, but this is so entirely different. Life in all its realism is high drama. Loss, love, life. Struggling, new beginnings. It's all there.

Having ordered several more Erica James books I'm looking forward to enjoying, I highly recommend this truly gifted author.
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on 25 April 2015
Erica James always tells a good story and this one is no exception. Well written and absorbing, it is at times very sad but also uplifting. The characters are believable and are a good representation of the kind of people you can find in most villages.
Reading this book made me want to live in this village!
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on 2 November 2013
Having read a few of Erica James's books,and. Thoroughly. enjoying them enough,to highly recommend them ,

I started "Hidden. Cottage " expecting more of. the same, sadly this was not to be

After a reasonable. Start, the story of. Mia. her family, and the new comer to the arcitipical. English village and with it's Inevitable. climactic end
As the story laboured onwards, the characters. became quite muddled, as to who was who,

Several time's I abandoned the book,to read better story's
There was only mild attempts of the humour. I had so enjoyed in her other books
I skipped quite a few pages, around the middle section
The last chapters came to there inevitable. Conclusion,
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on 20 February 2014
This book was well written and should really have been a longer book.I felt there were lots of characters, who weren't given as much space in the book as they really needed.
It was slightly predictable in places, in others not so.
It was very obvious what Mia would do and how she would react to tragedy.
I liked all the characters, although Owen was a bit sickly!
Jeff was plainly odd!
A lovely read, easy to follow, just wished it was either shorter to be followed by another book, or tweaked to give the reader more of each character.
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I really enjoyed The Hidden Cottage and felt very happy as I finished it - I was pleased it ended the way it did as I wasn't sure until I'd finished just how it would end.
I found it to be a great tale of love, honesty and family life with worry, excitement & loss woven expertly in for our reading pleasure.
There are a lot of characters - past & present - to get to know but the way the author, Erica James, linked them all together made it very easy to keep up with them all. She connected the reader to the characters in such a way that I was easily caught up in their lives, connecting with them & feeling for them.
I loved how Owen's childhood history with The Hidden Cottage and the village was slowly told through the book, it enabled us to understand his passion for the cottage, and the desire to continue to live there - whatever might occur in his private life, and the subsequent village gossip!
So well was the beautiful, quaint village of Little Pelham described that I wanted to live there - even with all the nosy neighbours! I enjoyed them all, especially Muriel who initially appeared to be a horrid village gossip but by the end it was evident what a good friend she was to the central character in the book, Mia.
I enjoyed Putin, the resident village peacock making his appearances through the book; his was a pleasant addition and added to the wonderful, idyllic image of the village.
Mia's husband Jeff had an attitude that ruffled everyone's feathers, including mine! He was emotionally distant from all of his family, particularly his children, his word was law and he was never wrong - in his eyes. Such a difficult man (and father) to get along with, but I did enjoy the way Mia dealt with him, always calm, ever the lady.
The surprising twist in the middle of the book was unexpected and heart-wrenching... but that's all I'll say as I don't want to give anything away!
I found myself entwined with the family and their problems - I cared about what happened such was my feeling of a connection to them.
Overall, this was a thoroughly well written book that I really enjoyed and didn't want to put down. Erica James writes in such a way that pulls the reader in very quickly, and leaves us wanting more by the end. Another book that I would not necessarily consider of the chick-lit genre - it is much deeper than that.
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