Monday, 17 March 2014

The Wedding Cake Tree - Melanie Hudson

About the author...
Melanie Hudson was born in Yorkshire in 1971. Her earliest memory is of standing with her sullen brother on the street corner selling her dad's surplus vegetables (imagine The Good Life in Barnsley and you're more or less there). After running away to join the British armed forces in 1994, she experienced a career that took her around the world on some exciting adventures. In 2010 when she returned to civilian life to look after her young son, on a whim, she moved to Dubai where she found the time to write women's fiction. She now lives on a nature reserve in Devon with her quirky son and mad dog. Melanie has an irrational fear of butterflies.

Follow Melanie Hudson on twitter @Melanie_Hudson_ or visit her Website
About the book...
Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future?  

When failed opera singer turned style photographer, Grace Buchanan, is ordered by her hippy-chick mother, Rosamund, to drop everything for two weeks and travel the British Isles with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine Officer, Alasdair Finn - she is more than a little surprised; after all, her mother has been dead for six months…   

At the reading of the will, Grace discovers that Rosamund kept the life she lived before Grace was born a secret. That secret is now to be revealed to Grace in the form of seven letters, written by her mother, just before she died. Entranced by the British landscape and caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair travel to four enchanting locations, walk in Rosamund’s footsteps, scatter her ashes, and read a letter at each one.       

What follows is an emotional, fun-filled, and adventurous journey of a lifetime, on which Grace slowly uncovers the truth about Rosamund’s incredible life story, leading both Grace and Alasdair to question their futures and address their own secret demons from the past. 

But can Rosamund’s puppeteering from the grave alter life’s course for Grace, or will things take an unexpected turn?

My thoughts....
I had an e-copy of this book from Choc-lit.com in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give. 

I started this book intending to read a little bit with a coffee and literally didn't stop until I'd finished it! It is so beautifully written and I was compelled to keep reading, wanting to know what happened next but at the same time not wanting it to end. It's one of the few books I've read recently that left me bereft when I turned the last page, a story that will stay with me for a long time if not forever.

Grace attends the reading of her mums will and is completely thrown to find out that before she is eligible to inherit she must go on a journey of discovery. Her mum has written a series of letters beginning with one which she has to read in the solicitors office.  This was totally unexpected and heart breaking for her. I had tears in my eyes and the book had only just begun. Imagine discovering the mother you knew and loved has led a life before you were born that you know absolutely nothing about! Add to that the Marine her mum has lined up to accompany her and we were in for an adventure.

This book pulled at my heart strings, I think I felt every emotion possible reading it and what made it particularly special was the journey itself.  Melanie's descriptions were so vivid I could have been on the journey with Grace and Alasdair. Only realising just how accurate the place descriptions were when they travelled to Scotland.  I've spent several holidays around the west coast of Scotland, it is one of my favourite places to go and I knew most of the places they visited, I could vividly see myself standing in the same spots - and I have had hot chocolate at the top of the Cairngorms in the Ptarmigan restaurant!!

I'd say nobody knows a person better than their mother and Rosamund's understanding of Grace was just beautiful to read - she succeeded in death to achieve what she failed at in life, pushing Grace gently into doing things she knew would ultimately make her a stronger person.  Sending Alasdair along supposedly to keep an eye out for Grace - not totally untrue but she was pulling his strings too!  Rosamund perhaps took the cowards way out, writing a series of letters instead of telling the her story to Grace whilst she was alive. 

The Wedding Cake Tree succeeded in making me see, life is too short, we should grab our chances whilst we can and make the most of every day.   It's far too easy to get caught up in the day to day drudge, forgetting to make time for the people and things we love - lives not just about working and paying the bills.

One of the wonderful things about this book was it was full of surprises, it was difficult to predict what was coming next and the story twisted and turned evoking different emotions with each chapter, keeping me hooked right to the final page

This was a beautiful book, one I've already recommended to several friends and I've discovered the Wedding Cake Tree is a real tree, not just a lovely description given to a pretend tree. A truly lovely idea to plant a tree at significant times and watch it grow as your relationships/children grow too.

I gave this book 5/5 stars