About the book...
Author Julia Ibbotson and her husband glimpsed the old Victorian rectory on a cold January day. It was in dire need of renovation, in the midst of the English moorlands and a mile from the nearest village, but they determined to embark on a new life in the country, to make the sad neglected house glow again and to settle into the life of the small traditional village. As Julia researches the history of the house and village, supervises the renovations and cooks for family and friends, she records their journey. This real-life, award-winning account focuses on the quest to "live the dream" and, in the end, to find what is important in life.
It boils down to this...it's a written account of the trials, tribulations, and celebrations that come from discovering a piece of the past, salvageable in our here and now. It brings us to the English countryside, steeps us in the visual appeal (or lack thereof at times) of the place itself, and sets the stage for the history of the building-that-would-be-home to reveal itself. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes a true love for a place, a way of life if you will and a dedication to preserving it ...all of which our narrator possesses in spades.
Along the way, there are several things that give you pause. First, we are treated to various recipes as dictated by the season of the chapter. From Victorian Plum Duff to Cream Tea Scones and everything in between, you'll garner quite a repertoire of items to try the next time you're feeling Old English-y. Second, you can definitely feel the love the author and her significant other have for the home they uncovered, built, and loved over the years, It warms your heart as they struggle to keep things moving on the improvement front while still managing life as it presents its many challenges....the one starring her mother as well as her daughter both brought tears to my eyes (briefly) but also strength to my heart as they banded together to face the odds.
I've said it before and I'll say it a hundred times again, I find it hard to be severely negative when reviewing a non-fiction title such as this seeing as how you can't really say their live wasn't a "good story". That being said, though I don't regret the read featured here, I can honestly say that I wish it had even more of a family connection, a lifeline to the story. The mere glimpses we catch are worthy of attention, yes, however the extreme focus tends to center on the renovation project itself, what progress was made/when, and so on. Interesting? Surely. Preferred to more life recollections? Negative.
In the end, a real life account of a life where the fork in the road isn't viewed as a hard choice but a welcome decision, leading to adventures not before dreamed. If you don't have a jones to visit the old country now, you will when finished with this read....as well as a desire to try out a recipe or two. Recommended for older teens through adults; no forbidden content, but I just feel the audience would be more interested in the actual material.
Review copy received courtesy of New Generation Publishing and Pump Up Your Book Promotions.
(THANKS!) Fore more information on either, be sure to check out their official website linked previously. To catch up with the author, stop by her site, like her on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter. This title is available now so be on the look out for it on a bookstore shelf near you or your online retailer of choice.
Until next time...happy reading!