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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Guestbook
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 25 July 2014
Annie Butterworth loves running her guest house, Willow Cottage. It's a popular little place, with bookings often full, and the cottage's guest book gives you a great glimpse into the lives of those who comes to stay there, whether for just a night or for a longer stay. Annie often makes her own contributions in there too, keeping an eye on all her guests wants and needs. Willow Cottage gets a famous visitor when crime writer Oliver Black comes to stay, although Annie knows him far better than some. All of the guests at Willow Cottage are contending with different things in their lives, and the guest book is a cathartic way of them sharing their thoughts. Many wish they could stay forever... will Annie be able to stay despite her own secret heartache too?

I know it sounds silly, but I didn't realise the whole book was written entirely as guest book entries before I began reading. I assumed there would of course be some entries throughout the book, but that it would be a traditional story around them. I did have some doubts when I started, it took me a while to get used to the narrative and to work out who was who, especially when there were several people 'writing' in one entry. There wasn't a lot of formatting going on for my kindle version, therefore I had to have an educated guess at times as to who was talking at the time! Once I settled into reading it though, it was fine and I enjoyed the way it was written.

I have to say that I liked the characters as well. The main one was of course Annie Butterworth, who owns Willow Cottage. We know that there was something sad in Annie's past, and as we learn more about her, I did like her more. She's very good at dealing with her fussiest of customers, the relationship with Oliver Black was fun to read, although I did want the two to hurry up and get together! I really did like Oliver too, he seemed so charming, and perfect for Annie too. The other characters in the book are mainly made up from guests at Willow Cottage. There is a wide range of characters too - from families, to singletons, old and young residents, newly-weds, jilted brides and many more. They are all easy to differentiate, and I loved reading about their lives, their stories and how they came to be at Willow Cottage. They all seemed to fall in love with the guest house too - how could you not?!

The way The Guestbook is written makes you feel like you are sitting in Willow Cottage with the residents, seeing the beautiful garden, the town and everything around them. There is a lot of emotion in the book as well, some moments had me laughing out loud, others had me welling up with tears in my eyes, Martin handles all of the stories very well, making them unique enough to be remembered amongst the many others in the book. Wells-By-The-Sea sounds like a beautiful town as well, you can see why it's a bolthole for so many people, especially Annie and Oliver, after what they have both been through. It's written in an unusual way, and once you get past the initial strangeness, it makes for a great read that you can really get involved with. There's no extra narration to give us information about the guests, aside from what's in the guest book, so it's a skill to put across so many stories in this format. I really did enjoy the book, and think it's one that will be successful through word of mouth, as it seems to be so far. I'm looking forward to reading more from Holly Martin.
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on 15 June 2017
Interesting story with the different people writing in the guestbook which is more of a diary to be honest and a pretty explicit one at that! Have stayed in a lot of self catering over the years and have never read any of those kind of entries! I prefer a normal flowing narrative, but it was a different angle to explore.
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on 28 October 2016
What a great idea for a book, comments left in the guestbook of a holiday cottage owned by Annie. Snippets of the lives of the people who come to stay, for whatever reason...
In just a few pages you build up a picture of the people who leave the comments, each with their own story to tell, some happy, some sad...
I was captivated from the first entry through to the last.
I have read several of Holly Martin's books and each have been brilliant.
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on 21 April 2017
I chose to read this book because I liked the sound of it's storyline. I wasn't disappointed, it was laugh out loud funny and one of those books that makes you want to know what happens next. I shall definitely be reading more from this author.
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on 25 September 2017
Brilliant and very funny - read this to my elderly parent and it made her chuckle and she found it easy to follow although I was reading it to her
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on 8 September 2017
Great idea to write a book via the comments left in the Visitors Book. We've got one at home but it's not nearly as interesting - thank goodness. Not sure I'd like all our secrets in plain sight.

Well done Holly. This was a really great read.
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on 23 July 2017
Great read!
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on 12 May 2017
I laughed .....I cryed. I shook the bed laughing inward so I didn't wake the hubby .......I sat there smiling at my kindle looking like a little weirdo. AGAIN ! A bbbbbrilliant book . Thank you 😊😊😊
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on 24 March 2015
Amazing loved seeing the visitors views and lives and story kept you going right to the end - please please let there be a sequel.
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on 3 June 2014
Such a lovely book to read while soaking up the sun on holiday or back in rainy old Britain wishing you were somewhere else! A sweet romance, and such a clever concept. I loved it.
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