Blog Tour: Book Review and Q&A - Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine.

How far must you run to leave the past behind you?

It is 1919 and the end of the war has not brought peace for Emeline Vane. Lost in grief, she is suddenly alone at the heart of a depleted family. She can no longer cope. And as everything seems to be slipping beyond her control, in a moment of desperation, she boards a train and runs away.

Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case finds Emeline's diary. What Bill Perch finds in the tattered pages of neat script goes against everything he has been told. He begins to trace an anguished story of love and betrayal that will send him on a journey to discover the truth.

What really happened to Emeline all those years ago?

Today on Hummingbird Reviews, I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Laura Madeleine's brand-new novel with Transworld, Where The Wild Cherries Grow. On my stop, I'll be sharing with you my review of this stunning novel as well as my Q&A with Laura Madeleine which was such a JOY to send the author's way. Grab yourselves a cuppa & enjoy, folks!

Q&A with Laura Madeleine
Hello, Laura! Welcome to Hummingbird Reviews. I'm so thrilled to have you here today. Without further ado, let's get this Q&A started.

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
Hello! A pleasure to be here. My name's Laura and I'm from the UK. I was born in the southeast but have drifted west over the years; I currently live in Bristol. I'm a full-time author. And shoe size?! I'm a size 3. Inherited my mum's small feet.

What is 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' about?
It's a bittersweet tale of love, belonging, and the things that bring us to life. A story about searching for passion, and finding it at the other end of the world... The story travels from the lonely wilds of the English countryside to the feverish heat of French Catalonia, to the bustle and energy of London and Paris in the late 1960s. It's about family secrets, a life-changing journey, summer, and love. It's about the sun-drenched flavours of the French-Spanish border: herbs from the maquis, crimson paprika, almonds, sweet wine and, of course, wild cherries.

How do you hope readers will feel while reading 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow'?
Haunted, transported... whisked away to another time and place, ideally!

Tell us a few authors who inspire you.
Alan Garner and W.G. Sebald are two of my all-time favourite authors, and they undoubtedly inspired this book. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I recently read her first novel Purple Hibiscus and its compelling depiction of shyness within a lead character has been a definite influence on my current work in progress. Patricia Highsmith, she's an absolute master of the third-person. Annie Proulx. I just wish I could write like her. She's brutal and brilliant.

Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
The moments where I lose time completely, and forget that I'm writing... Where I'll look up and find that two hours have passed somehow. Those moments of flow make slogging through the bad days worth it.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! Sorry that's a cheat. In unexpected places, though. Something I've read, or a lyric in a song, a phrase or a description, something mentioned on a podcast, someone in a café or the street... But I do love walking at night in the city; it takes on a different character then, when words seem to merge with footsteps.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
The moments when I hit a rut and it feels like the word count is laughing at me; when it's two steps forward, two steps back. I'm in one of those at the moment actually, and have taken a break to write these answers! But that's all part of the process. I struggle at the start of a book. The first thirty thousand words or so are always a fight. Every time I think, "this is the one that isn't going to work." I was moping about this to my hairdresser recently, only for him to turn around and say: "You're always like this at the start of a book. And by the next time I see you, it's always alright. So stop worrying." I guess I should listen to him!

What is your definition of success?
At the moment it's to make a living from writing, which I'm just about doing...

What one piece of advice would you pass on to another writer?
Don't forget to stretch (in every way).

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Coffee. Always.
Summer or winter? Summer.
Bath or shower? Shower. I'm usually running too late for baths.
Holiday in the city or countryside? Holiday in the countryside. Research in the city.
Text or call? Depends!
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter. I'm hardly ever on Facebook.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
TV or movies? Movies. So many to watch and never enough time!
Wine or beer? Wine. Although you can't beat a cold beer on a hot day...
Cats or dogs? Cats. No contest.
Chinese or Indian food? Indian, I reckon.
Pasta or cheese? BOTH. With extra cheese.

Book Review
Dear readers, it has been such a long time since I read a novel that was so evocative, so moving, and so completely and utterly delicious as 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' by Laura Madeleine. From the very first page of this book, I was transported to a different time and a different place entirely. Laura Madeleine wrapped me up within her glorious descriptions, alongside her wonderful characters, and I remained locked tight within this storyteller's grasp right until the very end.

In 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' by Laura Madeleine, the year 1919 is delivered to the reader in a mysterious and tantalising prologue. Remaining nameless, two characters become clear to us and immediately, questions about who they are and what they're doing begin to surface. This was a glorious way to begin the story, and this ribbon of mystery and wondering remained weaved right the way through, tugging me deeper and deeper into it. The reader is then taken forward in time, to the year 1969, fifty years later, and here, readers are introduced further to solicitor's assistant, Bill Perch. And this, dear readers, is where Laura Madeleine allows this incredible tale to unravel, thread by single thread.

Following the mysterious vanishing of Emeline Vane, Laura Madeleine captures perfectly a time well before my own, and it was simply exquisite to explore and discover the twists behind a long-ago disappearance, and the repercussions it held for Bill Perch in the present day. When Bill is sent off to see what more he can find out about Emeline Vane and what happened to her by his boss, he can hardly believe his luck at having been trusted with such a monumental task. It is his chance to show his boss that he is more than capable of doing his job, and it is exciting to be handed something a little meatier than usual to really get stuck into. Meeting the clients, it turns out that without proving that Emeline Vane is dead, the sale of their family home is unable to proceed, and so Bill is sent to Saltedge, in Norfolk. His mission is to see what he can find in Hallerton House related to Emeline Vane, with the help of some curious characters along the way.

When he arrives at Hallerton House, Madeleine really gets to work with her visual descriptions and I was hypnotised by this old and weathered mansion, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. I got the feeling immediately that between the walls of the place lay a thousand secrets just waiting to be discovered. It was incredibly atmospheric, and Hallerton itself sent shivers up and down my spine throughout Bill's exploration of the rooms inside that had once upon a time been inhabited. I could just imagine his slow and hesitant steps as he moved, and I half-expected a ghost to appear at any moment. It just had that feel to it, and I couldn't look away. Hallerton felt as if it were a character all of its own and I suppose, in a way, that it was.

What I adored most about 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' were the chapters where I was taken back to the past and able to watch what really happened back then unfold. It was such a wonderful way to reveal the truth behind Emeline Vane, and each time I finished one of those chapters, I couldn't wait to reach another. Emeline Vane's story took me by surprise. I'm not sure why, but I didn't really expect things to happen in the way that they did, which only made me enjoy this novel all the more. There were moments where I wanted to cry for Emeline, because of what she had been through, followed by moments where I wanted to cheer her on and punch the air, because she turned out to be one of the bravest fictional women I have ever met. Her story of courage and bravery was also one of passion and faith, not forgetting love and acceptance. It captivated me. I couldn't bear to look away, for fear of missing something of great importance. And now when I think of this character, I think to myself, 'What a woman Emeline Vane was.'

Dear readers, if that is not enough to tempt you into reading this wonderful novel, then let me also tell you that Laura Madeleine's later focus on food will blow your taste-buds to smithereens. You will be hankering after all manner of delicious meals and recipes, because this novel is packed full of heart-warming goodness and food for the soul! I was practically salivating as I whipped through the pages and wanted nothing more than step into the book and to plant myself in the scenes, simply to sit down at a table and join in. The temptation to do so was sky-high!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it's been a long time since I enjoyed a novel as much as I enjoyed this one. Suffice to say, I will be waiting eagerly for news of Madeleine's next novel because 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' was absolutely divine. It had a dreamy feel to it, other-worldly even, and I loved every moment I spent wrapped up in this story. Hummingbird Reviews is awarding 'Where The Wild Cherries Grow' by Laura Madeleine with five out of five stars. A superbly evocative novel that I just couldn't get enough of. Bravo!

About the author.

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident baker for Domestic Sluttery.

She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.

You can find Laura Madeleine on Twitter.
You can purchase your eBook copy of Where The Wild Cherries Grow here.

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