Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow

Title - Kitty's Countryside Dream
Author - Christie Barlow
Publication Date - February 25th 2016
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 309

New Home. New life. New beginning. It's time for Kitty Lewis to start living again...

When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it's time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there's an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom...

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, at the farm, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream fall to pieces?

When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems...

I'm trying really, really hard not to judge books by their covers, but when a cover is as gorgeous as this, how can I not get excited and begin thinking up all sorts of delightful scenarios that could take place within the scene displayed to me? When Bookouture and Christie Barlow revealed the cover of her upcoming release on Twitter, my eyes almost fell out of their sockets. I was stunned! I adore the countryside, the fields and the homes, the tight-knit communities usually huddled within, and Kitty's Countryside Dream looked to have all of that going on, and more. It's fair to say that I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book.

This is the first novel by Christie Barlow that I've read. I do have a previous book of Christie's waiting patiently on my Kindle, and can't wait to finally get round to that one, as it's had some smashing reviews. So, I had nothing to compare to when I began reading. There's something excited about diving into a new author's book for the very first time. Experiencing their style and how they build their characters etc. is always fun, and eye-opening in the sense that each other is unique. Sure, they perhaps share the same genre, but there is always something (I think) that sets them apart within that genre.

In Kitty's Countryside Dream, Christie's style shines through. Homely, warm and ultimately inviting, it was impossible for me not to feel at home from the start. The author opens Kitty's story with a lovely scene, where she has just arrived in Rosefield, "a quaint village on the edge of North Staffordshire." Now I don't know about you, but village settings are one of my guilty pleasures. I love them, and at just the mere mention of Rosefield being "quaint", my mind was already busy painting a picture of the place Kitty had just arrived in. Christie begins, as Kitty settles into her surroundings, to bring the past forward, and the reader is filled in on how Kitty has come to be there. After a phone-call summoning her to the solicitor's office, she found, to her surprise, that she'd not only inherited the delightful Bluebell Lodge, but also a separate ground floor flat from her grandmother. I thought to myself, "Well, this is all well and good. How fabulous for Kitty!", until of course Christie decided to add into the mix that, according to Kitty, her parents had informed her that her grandparents had been deceased when she was very young. Intriguing, right? Yes, very.

I adored watching Kitty beginning to familiarise herself with Rosefield and its inhabitants. The pacing of this story was lovely and, day by day, I was able to watch unexpected friendships be bought to life and bonds be made. Kitty was a wonderful character and, although without her mother and father, seemed strong and determined in my eyes. Taking on the lodge and the flat didn't seem like an easy thing to do, and despite a few mishaps, it wasn't long before Kitty was throwing herself into work at the chicken farm alongside her two new friends, Jeannie and Tom. It felt like she was a natural!

I have to say, although I found the first half of Kitty's Countryside Dream utterly lovely, my real enjoyment of this book came from the second half, when Christie began to bring in elements of mystery and secrets that had me very, very interested indeed. Curious about the grandparents who Kitty had believed to be dead for so long, the book began to take a different direction and I was gripped. Of course, the gorgeous peppering of farmland descriptions, chickens and a pony remained, but I was hooked as Kitty found a long-hidden diary, and began to reveal the secrets within, chapter by chapter.

This novel was beautifully focused on friendships, relationships and the past. Although hidden, it began to creep to the surface as the book progressed and took me completely by surprise. Christie achieved a wonderfully intriguing tale, while at the same time weaving through an aspect of forgiveness and moving on that worked perfectly. The location, the characters, secrets, and Kitty herself all came together to make this an absolutely delightful story, that left me feeling full of happiness and hope.

Becca's Books is awarding Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow with FOUR YUMMY CUPCAKES! An utterly gorgeous story, with an utterly gorgeous plot that kept me turning the pages.


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