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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 April 2014
Review: what a lovely little tale this was! I love the idea of a serialised novel, a bit like The Arcade by Kitty Charles but longer. This first instalment in the serial definitely has the desired effect of making the reader want more! You're brought right into the action with main character Tilly getting up on New Year's Day and going to pursue her new project-her allotment. We find out that Tilly has been through some things recently, and we know they might involve a previous partner, but we are never told exactly what, or who, was involved and that is just so teasing and tantalising and will definitely have me grabbing the next installment as soon as it comes out!

Tilly is a lovely character, I really warmed to her as the story progressed as she warmed to the other characters in this novella, these things happened almost in parallel. She seems rather afraid of getting too attached to people and I think this gives us a clue as to what has happened to her in the past. The funniest thing is that she seemed totally clueless about gardening and so this provides some real comedy moments as the story progresses. There are a host of other characters in this novella, all of whom developed as the story went on, but we don't find out too much about them all, meaning that they will probably reveal themselves further in the next three instalments of this serialised novel!

The storyline itself was sweet. It was a nice easy read and nothing too dramatic happened. I love the fact that it features a teacher, and does paint teaching from a relatic point of view, you have reports to write, planning to do and get ill every holiday-well done to this author for including all of these aspects in this novella, I hope they will continue to be a feature of the next few instalments. I also really loved the fact that her mum loved in Harrogate! This bit was very well-written, so you cold tell this author had actually been there (my home town). I found some of the gardening references a little dull in parts, just because I have no interest in gardening whatsoever, but there weren't too many complex ideas to take in, you plant stuff, it grows, so that was good.

There were some real funny moments in this novella and overall it was sweet and endearing. Being at around 85 pages, this book made a nice short break from a full novel and is definitely something you could read on your commute as it was easy to pick up and put down. I will definitely be read the Summer instalment as I am incredibly intrigued to find out more about Tilly's last and also about the other characters on the allotments. This is perfect reading for this time of year, being spring and all, but I think it would work well later on in the year too, giving new hope to dull days!
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on 4 May 2014
Cathy's debut 'Conditional Love' became a HUGE hit after being released in October last year and it was just a matter of time before she snatched a deal with a great publisher. Needless to say, I was over the moon to hear she got a deal with Transworld and she's about to publish her new novel in 4 parts. Tricky you may say, well I thought so too. But, you're NOT to doubt Cathy's writing skills, so publishing her novel in 4 parts (each for every season) proved to be very wise.

'Ivy Lane: Spring' is the first part and it's absolutely charming. It's the right length for a novella, so even those who have trouble reading long books can devour in less than an hour. It's also the perfect opportunity for those who're not familiar with Cathy's writing, to check her out and get addicted to her (just like many of us already is).

'Ivy Lane' tells the story of Tilly Parker who settles in Ivy Lane discovering the beauty of not only her new allotment but of life once again. She's been through quite a rough period (though Cathy shares very few details of Tilly's past) and is all set to start anew. I must admit, I can't wait to read the other parts in this novel because I so want to know what are the reasons Tilly decided to move and make such a drastic change in her life. So, a warning to those that will read this one - do not get frustrated if you don't know all the answers to Tilly's story, I'm sure they will be revealed 'when the time is right', maybe even in the next part.

I really enjoyed Ivy Lane, it's short yet charming because I really could see Tilly transforming in front of my eyes. I've never been one for drastic changes, like moving after a heartbreak etc, but I get the whole idea of starting afresh. Tilly is a lovable character you'll connect to from the first page, and even if you don't like gardening and know zilch about potatoes/tomatoes/carrots/flowers etc, you're going to enjoy this book. Because it's not about gardening, it's about new beginnings, making new friends, believing in life once again though you were burned before.

As you see, I'm really excited about 'Ivy Lane:Summer' and can't wait to see what Cathy and Tilly have in store for us. I assume there will be some twists or huge revelations, which I AM anticipating. Short, sweet read perfect for these spring days.
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This is part one in a four part novel following the seasons at the Ivy Lane allotments. Tilly Parker needs a fresh start – she has clearly experienced tragedy though we are not told exactly what this tragedy is – and she gets a new job and decides to change her life. Part of that change involves getting herself an allotment – even though she has no gardening experience at all. What follows as she, against her better judgement, becomes involved with the other tenants of the allotments, makes a charming story which will restore your faith in human nature.

If you’re a cynic you probably won’t enjoy this story but if you enjoy feel good stories which remind you of the good in human nature rather than the bad then you will enjoy it. Bear in mind that this is not the full story and the other three parts – Summer, Autumn and Winter – are published during the year. So if you like your stories complete then you had best wait until the Winter instalment is released towards the end of this year.

I enjoyed reading the story and warmed to Tilly as a character. I liked the other characters on the allotments as well – especially Gemma who appears never to get her hands dirty and her mother who is the best delegator I’ve ever come across in fact or fiction! There are plenty of amusing moments in this delightful story and while it isn’t great literature it is good light entertainment. I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from NetGalley.
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on 6 May 2014
Tilly Parker arrives in a new town, looking for a fresh start. We don’t know exactly what she’s escaping from but we know it has something to do with “James”. With a new job waiting for her, Tilly also rents an allotment to keep her busy in her spare time, intent on keeping her head down and herself to herself.

What Tilly isn’t expecting is the community that comes along with hiring an allotment on Ivy Lane and soon she finds herself surrounded by new friends, keen to help her out and she in return, finds herself helping her fellow gardener.

This is the first in what is to be a four part series, spanning the seasons of the year. In a similar vein to the allotments the story is growing itself around, the series starts it’s life in Spring. Tilly’s allotment is overgrown, a bit of a mess just like she finds herself to be at the moment and as she and her allotment neighbours start to kick her gardening space back into shape, she also finds herself feeling better.

Ivy Lane features a great set of characters, from the shy to the eccentric, from the sober to the drunk. There’s mysterious goings on in one of the neighbouring sheds, a good looking guy, who brings with him the suggestion of a possible romance on the horizon for Tilly, and so many funny moments, it’s amazing they fit in such a short book.

As an introduction to the series, this book has to fit a lot of information into it’s pages as we get to know both the setting and it’s residents. Now that we know the characters, I look forward to seeing how the story develops throughout the remaining seasons.

My Rating 5/5 ~ A great introduction to what looks set to be a brilliant series. I love the seasonal concept and whilst I don’t particularly like the waiting (impatient as I am), I have a feeling the rest of the series will be worth the wait. Funny, endearing, natural and unique, Ivy Lane looks set to keep me hooked throughout the year.
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on 31 May 2014
Originally posted on Dreaming With Open Eyes

Rating = 3.5

I kindly received Ivy Lane: Spring in exchange of an honest review by the publisher via Netgalley.

This was the first time I have read something of Cathy Bramley. I heard so many good thing about the first part of Ivy Lane I couldn't resist to request it on Netgalley as well. Thank you to Transworld for approving me.

Ivy Lane: Spring is the first installment of a four parted novel. I think this is such a lovely idea. The only bad thing about this is that we readers have to wait a couple of months for every part. Part 2 (summer) of the Ivy Lane series will be puplished on 3rd July

Ivy Lane: Spring, focuses on Tilly Parker. 28 year old teacher who moved to Kingsfield recently to escape from her old life and to start fresh all over again. We're not told what she is escaping from but it does involve a man called James. It must had such an impact on her because she lives in a shell for many months now. Tilly is about to start a new job as a part-time teacher and without a knowledge of gardening she takes on her own plot at Ivy Lane allotment to challenge herself with a new project. The only thing she want is her peace and quiet but the community of Ivy Lane has other plans for her. They want to get to know Tilly, help her with the gardening and involve her into Ivy Lane events. Soon Tilly finds herself as a part of the Ivy Lane community.

What a lovely story! This was a really quick read that was enjoyable and had me wanting to read on to find out what would happen next. I really liked the writing style and the ease with which I could read this story. The plot was unique and so were the multitude of characters. The characters are well thought out and developed. This plot had a surprising twists at the end of the sory, which I didn’t see coming. It makes you want to read the second part right now.

A quick read about the importance of friendship and how to learn the importance of living your life for you. I rate this book 3.5 cupcakes because I didn't fall in love with it as much as I was hoping to. Even though I can't wait to read the next part of this novel to discover why Tilly moved to Kingsfield and what she is hiding from us.
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on 10 June 2014
A great start to this series of novelletes. The underlying story about the main character is intriguing and makes you want to read more. As each individual is introduced it adds another layer to the story and the author is building the personalities of character as the story goes on. Bring on book two.
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on 19 May 2014
Tilly Parker moved to the small market town of Kingsfield for a fresh start. She's clearly been through something traumatic that remains a mystery but I'm looking forward to finding out more in the later books!

She finds a job teaching at a local infant school, and thought she would embark on a new hobby, and after a serendipitous moment when a flyer came through her door advertising a vacant allotment, came up with the idea of gardening. She thought it might be an easy, solitary pass time, one which she hopes that no-one will ask any awkward questions (yet we still don't know what about!)
That, she learns, is not going to be as the whole community of the Ivy Lane Allotments wants to welcome her and accept her as their own.

The community really are a lovely bunch, and they all have a back story to tell. I am so happy that this is being released the way it is, in parts, it's a very clever idea and really does add to the anticipation.

I love Cathy Bramley's writing, I find her the most effortless of storytellers, her dialogue is so 'true' and genuine, not trying to be annoyingly on trend or equally annoyingly stuffy, her characters are very well developed - they feel like friends and she has a total knack of drawing you in. I could read her books every day, forever.
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You know in advance when you start this short novel that it is the first in a series of four (one for each season). This means that the author has to introduce the characters, write a self contained story for this novel, and create a start to a longer storyline which will encourage you to buy the next one when it is released. I think that she does very well in achieving all three of these aims.

Tilly is a primary school teacher who has moved into a small community to get away from something (not revealed in full here but attached to the name "James"). She takes on an allotment and is hoping to make growing things her new hobby although she knows nothing at all about horticulture. In spending time at the allotment she meets a range of strange characters and finds herself drawn into the community and involved in their lives and activities. It's a simple plot but done well as Tilly is a delightful character who is strong enough to carry the story and to counterpoint some of the more unusual people she meets.

This is a quick and delightful read. The plot is simple and the characters varied. Nothing very exciting happens but as Tilly's plot begins to grow we see her begin to change and interact more. I am looking forward to seeing what summer will bring. I received a free copy of this novel from the publishers via NetGalley.
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on 18 May 2014
This is the first book I have read by Cathy Bramley and was a hugely pleasant surprise to me. Having read the synopsis, I wasn't sure if I could get into it as I'm not into gardening, much less joining an allotment; but something kept telling me I had to give it a chance...and I have not been disappointed!!

This story focuses on Tilly, who is in need of beginning a new chapter in her life, while learning how to lay the old one to rest. To assist herself, she decidedly takes on a plot at the local allotment. From the start, Tilly's drawn into their social structure and roped into different tasks when all she wants is to be alone. By the end of the first book, she's coming out of her shell, has made new friends, learned a few gardening tricks, and finds that she will soon be on telly!!

Ms. Bramley's writing style is free-flowing and low key. Interestingly, the 'Ivy Lane' series is split among 4 books (one per season) and Spring: Part 1 has 11 chapters. I loved this book so well that I pre-ordered the Summer and Autumn books - I can't wait!!
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on 25 April 2014
This book was a lovely, feel good quick easy read. And with another 3 parts to go, the residents of the village and the reader still don't know Tilly's full back story. With that in the background it's nice to just live in the present. If you've just read something a little heavier (like I had) this is a perfect anecdote.
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