About the book...
Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!
As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require. A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.
This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with
Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!
Forget sending postcards saying 'wish you were here' - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.
Diary entry of a young Annie Butterworth (Age 11)...
I can’t believe what has just happened, I’m so excited, my heart is pounding. Olly kissed me. My first kiss!!!! Olly has been my best friend as far back as I can remember, we’ve played together every day, jumped in puddles, climbed trees, I’ve rod e on the back of his bike. With his brother Nick the three of us have been completely inseparable. But they’ve always just been Olly and Nick, the Butterworth Boys. They’re just my friends and I’ve never really thought about them in any other way.
I mean, I love them, I always have but… they’re just my friends. But now…
I went for a walk tonight on the beach after dark, as I always do and Olly came with me, sometimes he does that, sometimes Nick comes too, but mostly I’m on my own.
I’ve been a bit down over the last few days as Mum has done one of her vanishing acts again, she does it so often now that it has long since become the norm, though it still hurts, like me and Dad aren’t good enough for her. It hurts Dad too and that’s what makes me so sad to see him so down.
Olly was hugging me and I was having a little cry. He is just lovely, he just listens and he gives the best hugs.
It started to rain and it rained hard. Within seconds we were soaked. We were standing near one of the broken beach huts and we ran to shelter in there. The sky lit up with thunder and lightning and we carried on hugging, cuddling together more for warmth than comfort. I told him I was glad he was there and he kissed me on top of my head. He’s never done that before and it felt strange, nice but strange. I looked up at him and then he kissed me. I’ve never kissed anyone before, not properly. Playing kiss chase with the boys in the school playground doesn’t really count as normally that turns out to be a quick peck on the cheek. I’m definitely the glass geek with my glasses and slightly wonky teeth, and although no one has ever bullied me, Olly and Nick would beat them up if they did, I know I’m not the most popular girl in school either. Gorgeous Sally Jenkins gets all the boys attention, when she plays kiss chase, the boys kiss her on the mouth. No one has ever kissed me on the mouth before so I was a bit surprised when Olly did. It was so soft, so sweet, I don’t know if I was doing it right, but he certainly seemed to be enjoying himself. He held my face in his hands, just like they do in the movies. I honestly felt my legs go weak, I know that’s such a cliché but I could hardly breathe. Maybe I wasn’t doing the kissing right after all because I was all dizzy too. Olly seemed to know I was feeling dizzy so he gently pushed me back against the wall so I could lean against it. We kissed for ages, it went on for so long the storm had actually stopped and my lips felt sore.
He’s just walked me back and held my hand all the way home. We didn’t talk about the kiss, but he kept looking at me and smiling. What does this mean? Is he now my boyfriend? But what about Nick? Can I have two boyfriends? I actually feel a bit guilty about Nick. Oh I’m so confused.
I saw Nick and Olly have a fight this morning. They never fight. Never. This was an actual fist fight too. It didn’t last long and then Nick ran away crying. Olly looked so sad, so guilty. I haven’t seen Nick all day and when I tried to speak to Olly about it he just kept avoiding me. I wanted to speak about the kiss too and whether he wanted to do it again but he didn’t seem to want to talk to me at all.
I’ve just seen him kissing Sally Jenkins. He didn’t kiss her like he kissed me, he shoved his tongue in her mouth. Urgh!!! I threw my chicken paste sandwich at him and it landed in his hair. That stopped the kiss. Sally Jenkins laughed at him. I thought Olly would be angry but he looked even sadder than when he fought with Nick.