Starting Over at Acorn Cottage

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Member Reviews

A story about gentle souls reeling from the harsher aspects of life, being drawn to a village whose life is ebbing away. The story is told from multi-point of view and explores how friendship love and a little bit of magic can transform lives and places. 

Bereavement, domestic abuse and forgiveness are the story's major themes. The horror of them sensitively portrayed. As is, the power of good friends, love and sharing dark secrets with someone you trust.

Even though the subject matter is dark, there is plenty of light in this story. Delightful characters, you want to succeed and a special older lady Tassie who is distinctly mystical.  The conflicts are real and angst-ridden, but so is the love and understanding that overcomes them. 

This is an engaging, heartwarming, story with characters that resonate.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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When Clara finds that her boyfriend and her best friend have been going behind her back, she knows it's time to say goodbye - to both of them and to her life as it is. She has always dreamed of living in a thatched cottage, so, after a glass or two of wine too much, she goes online and bang! Buys a thatched cottage, in Marryknowe. Acorn Cottage looks so beautiful on the photos.
However, as it turns out, right after Clara's arrival to her new place, the cottage is almost uninhabitable. Forget the roses in the garden when there is not much more else than a roof over her head, and there are still some holes in it.
Fortunately, Henry and his daughter Pansy arrive in their little van, Henry looking for a job, and Clara's cottage is perfect for him to start working asap.
But is Acorn Cottage really the place that will help Clara to heal?

The book is written in a way that immediately sucks you in and you are truly invested in Clara's life. She's this kind of character that you want to succeed, keeping everything crossed for her. There were moments that I was wondering if Clara is showing us her true colours, as, you know, she was everywhere and wanted to help everyone, no matter what. She was not noisy, oh no, she just wanted to help, and I was thinking, is this a diversion? Does she want to hide something from us? The more we got to know her, the more I felt secure in my belief and it turned out that Clara was a much more complex character that we could think at first. Getting to know her story was heart - breaking and sometimes hard to read, but seeing her opening has made my heart sing - she so deserved her happy end.
As well as Rachel - her subplot was truly surprising and sometimes shocking, also not so easy to read, and it's awoken all kind of emotions in me. To be honest, I at first couldn't understand why she hasn't done anything, but the more I read the more I started to understand things, Rachel and the whole situation. How can you help yourself when your whole life you were told what to do and whatever you did was criticised, right? I loved seeing how creative she was, I loved her little rebellions and loved seeing her growing in confidence.
Tassie was a very interesting character and I liked her very much. There was this magical element to her, and not only because she could read tea leaves, but she could also see things in the future and she was very wary about nature, being able to read all the signs it was trying to tell us. However, as much as I liked her, it was a hard cookie to chew, to believe - yes, it was a bit overdone. I get what the author wanted to achieve here, and generally she has managed it, Tassie bringing out all the positive things and changes, but I could really live without this element of magic.

I must admit that the book took me a little by surprise, especially the fact that, except being a charming romance, it also touches upon very heavy issues, bringing tons of depth to the plot and the characters' development.

Altogether it was a lovely story, but there were too many moments that it simply felt too forced and too clichéd. There were also moments that the story felt so chopped and so abrupt, and I had to check if I've missed a page or two. And there were a few things that seemed out of place and the book could do without. Also, I'd love the story to be more ambitious, as the things were either black or white, I've missed the shadows between.

"Starting Over at Acorn Cottage" is a story about community, about friendship, courage, strength and keeping together, about forgiveness and kindness. It shows how strong women can be, and that it's so important to keep your eyes open and see when people need help. The author has a way with words and she knows how to balance lightness and humour with all those heavy issues she has decided to write about - and hats off to her for doing this, as she's touched upon issues that are not easy to be talked about. This book made me smile and it made me think, personally I enjoyed the story very much.
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A beautiful cover for a beautiful story, STARTING OVER AT ACORN COTTAGE by Kate Forster is the kind of book that you can lose yourself in and travel to a place that is as interesting as it's characters.

Clara has always been sensible but when she discovers that her long-term partner was having an affair with her so-called best friend, she had enough. So she walked away from her career, her flat, and her past, and bought a cosy cottage in the country where she hoped to lick her wounds. But the cottage isn't exactly cosy and needs some work, and the locals aren't exactly the picture of happiness and joy. As Clara settles in and begins to get to know everyone and their sometimes complicated lives, she may just find out what happiness truly is ...

The setting in this book is as fascinating and compelling as the characters which always makes a story just that little bit more special for me. Clara is a wonderful character who instantly felt like a close friend and I loved watching her face every challenge head-on and never give up. Tassie is a gem and my heart broke for Rachel, and there are plenty of others to warm your heart - but not them all!! 

​STARTING OVER AT ACORN COTTAGE by Kate Forster is a story about new beginnings and being brave enough to let go of the past and reach for something different, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
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This is an enjoyable book to settle into. The type that starts out with someone having to flee from heartbreak and setting up for a new start in the country. It does not take long to realise that actually there may be more going on beneath the surface. Clara has some buried secrets, you soon realise. You also see that her dream cottage is in a much worse state than she realised. The country idyll turns out to be rundown and past its best. Clara seems to have the knack of attracting people to her. She also seems to have an empathy for people who are in need.

With a varied cast and both uplifting and sad moments, I found this to be a gently entertaining read. There some harder issues beneath the surface but the book has a fairytale quality to it and a hint of magical realism. It is an escapist read to enjoy.
Thanks to Aria for a copy of the book.
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I thought this would be a light and fluffy rom-com/chick-lit style read. But, instead, it dealt with some very serious topics. It was a lot heavier read than I was expecting. 

Many thanks to the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Starting Over at Acorn Cottage is the first book I have read by Kate Forster. Judging by the cover and title I presumed it would be a typical read of a young woman having a tough time and in turn starting over again creating a new life for herself somewhere nice. To some extent this was the main plot of this book but behind the initial layer there was an awful lot more going on with some serious and heartbreaking issues being explored in this book. When we first meet Clara Maxwell she has reached breaking point and is packing her bags ready to flee from the apartment she had shared with her boyfriend Giles. The ultimate betrayal has happened to her, Clara being the innocent party.

How can one cope when they discover their best friend has been secretly seeing their boyfriend and it's you who have been left in the dark moving blissfully along in what you presumed was an OK relationship? Clara is bursting with anger, she is a responsible, sensible adult who likes order in her life and to have this trauma befall her sets in motion a series of events which will change her life. Before she even realises what she is doing she has bought a beautiful cottage in the countryside that she has seen online. But when she arrives Clara's retirement dream, being fulfilled a little earlier than planned, of owning a beautiful cottage surrounded by fields and nature is shattered as the cottage is more a wreck than anything else with lots of work needing to be done to it. Can Clara come back from the bitter disappointment of being sold something that couldn't possibly live up to her expectations and find a way to have some purpose in her life and maybe even some romance? The reader certainly hopes so as the story really began to get going once Clara makes some decisions that see her set the wheels in motion to help herself and those around her whom she meets in the little village of Merryknowe.

Clara was a person who seemed to want to help those around her in any way she could and it was almost as if she was using this as a distraction technique in order to put her own worries firmly to the back of her mind. We knew her initial life problems, and yes you do feel great sympathy for her, but you can't help thinking as you progress through the book is there actually a lot more going on with Clara than at first meets the eye? Is there something that she is keeping to herself and therefore she needs to keep busy in order to not let her thoughts travel back to what she is keeping covered?

I enjoyed that the book didn't focus too much on Clara and Giles, in the way that the break up occurred at the beginning and she was steadfast in her determination to keep him out of her life. Yes she wore her heart on her sleeve and you could see how upset she was but we weren't constantly told about this which was refreshing. I also thought it was great that Merryknowe, despite being a beautiful little village, wasn't without its problems as well. It could be the picture perfect, idyllic place to live but it was falling on its knees with it calling out for new life to make it great once again. Would Clara be the one to bring a little bit of hope and sparkle back to the village? Well if the eldest resident Tassie McIver had anything to do with it than Clara surely would be.

Tassie brought a sort of magical element to the book in that she loved reading tea leaves and knew every little suspicion or sign that nature offered her. She could see and feel things with regard to the future that others couldn't. To be honest, I find all this just a little bit too hard to believe but I enjoyed Tassie's strand of the story and her abilities for what they were. Simply, a ways and means to bring about little subtle changes and to push different characters in directions they hadn't realised they needed to venture in. Clara being one of those and with a little nurturing and advice from Tassie she sets about bringing about positive changes to people she will come to call dear friends and perhaps with one she may or may not venture further than friendship.

Henry is a thatcher by trade but could be classed as an all rounder as he can turn his hand to many things. He was widowed several years ago and now brings up his young daughter Pansy by himself. They live in a specially converted van that can be brought anywhere and as luck would have it Clara is in need of a thatcher as well as someone who can do many other jobs in order to get Acorn Cottage up to standard and looking like the cottage of her dreams. Again as with Clara, I felt Henry was hiding things and that he was lingering in the past. You couldn't blame him for it but perhaps this was going on for too long. He was prohibiting both himself and Pansy from establishing a future and I know it is difficult to let go of hurts and sorrows but there comes a time when you have to do so. Of course, there was chemistry between himself and Clara and they do get closer as renovations begin on the cottage but as with another strand of the story I wondered was everything just happening to fast for Clara?

No sooner had she arrived in the village to start over then she has developed feelings for someone and also become best friends with Rachel practically overnight. For the majority of the book I thought things like that just happened too quickly, too readily and easily. But when I finished reading my opinion slightly changed and I realised all that did need to happen and that Clara was meant to meet these people, that it didn't matter how fast everything occurred as really they were waiting for her arrival all along but they didn't know it.

In my mind the strongest aspect of the book was Rachel's storyline. It will really hit a nerve with many readers and based on the nice, colourful cover you wouldn't think such a serious and hard hitting storyline like that would be present in this kind of read. This storyline was the best by miles in the book and I thought it was very well written. Rachel is a young woman who for all her life has been told what to do, how to do it, when to do it and to never stray from instructions. The bakery and tearooms she works in and which are owned by her mother are nowhere near reaching the potential they could be because Rachel is never given any freedom to express her self and the creative ideas she has bubbling away beneath the surface. Rachel knows she may never deviate from instructions or she will face severe punishment.

Rachel has become unaccustomed to acting in a normal way around people but yet things we all say and do and take for granted seem obscure to her. She really is a damaged character and even though other villagers could see things weren't right, they could or would do nothing about it. To be honest I thought this was a bit of a cop out. Rachel was crying out for help and why did it take until Clara coming along and seeing something in Rachel for change to begin to come about?

The characters in this book all need a solid purpose in their life and it was as if Clara was the catalyst that was going to make them realise it. She came to Merryknowe looking for a slower pace of life but she ends up being busier than ever. She feels the need to improve people's lives and she does so in a joyful way. But when help has been offered, received and some good things in place then maybe it is the time for Clara to look to herself and perhaps work on what has been more than niggling away at her for a very long time.

Starting Over at Acorn Cottage was a nice, pleasant read which balanced well the serious with the light. Yes this story does have some darker elements but overall if you want a quick easy read that will take you away from everything going on in the world that this may just be the book for you.
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After having reviewed The Sisters,also by Kate Forster, I can honestly say I could not wait to get started with what may happen at Acorn Cottage.

An engaging cast of characters, quiet village and a relaxing but interesting plot. 

Thanks to Kate Forster and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars.
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A super cute book which was simply perfect between my poicr procedurals.

Having been betrayed by her boyfriend and best friend, Clara needed a change of scene. Off she went to the country after buying a ramshackle cottage in dire need of repair or a do-over. Entered Henry and his daughter Pansy who was hired as the contractor. Then came Tassie and the story simply exploded with colors.

My first book by author Kate Forster, the writing was warm and filled with emotions. The characters had depth; they were intriguing and felt real. Love blossomed between Clara and Henry as expected. After all, it was the time of starting over for both. But it was Tassie and Pansy who who stole the show. They were a delight to be around. And I loved their conversations. The story simply sparkled with them.

I loved the almost magical aura that Tassie brought to the story. The book was the perfect pick-me-up when the world outside was tense. I was smiling and cheering them on as I turned the pages. Some scenes were clichéd and expected, but I didn't mind that. I found comfort in them. Sometimes we need the expected in an unexpected viral pandemic.

All emotions were felt in the words, and I could forget everything for those couple of hours. Simply wonderful.
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This is an enchanting story of love, life, and starting afresh. There are a host of great characters, some tasty baking, and a thatched cottage just waiting to be transformed. It's set in a little village just waiting for someone to come in and revitalise it, and our heroine Clara is just the perfect woman for the job. There are revelations, there is romance, and there is a touch of magic. 

Truly delightful, I wish I could give it 6 stars.
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What an uplifting, delightful story, this one is emotional, it’ll have you laughing and crying, but the overall theme for me was hope, self forgiveness and love, you will be smiling at the end.  I a, so glad I read this and I thoroughly recommend this, it’s such a positive read.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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This is an adorable gem of a story. Following in the wonderfully mixed genre footsteps of Jenni Keer, it combines typical chick lit tropes with a dusting of otherwordliness, and it works perfectly. I love quirky characters and this book has them in droves, both old and young.

The story celebrates strong, capable, loving women, with a balance of the not so loving, and it also explores some quite sensitive issues around dying young and abusive relationships . But don't let that put you off, barbecue it is wonderfully uplifting and has the perfect combination of sadness and happiness. It made me cry (yes, really) and it made me smile, and I devoured it in one day when I really should have been doing other things.
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This is such a lovely read! Just the ticket if you need a light, bright uplifting book to raise your spirits.

Clara Maxwell is a sensible young woman; she has her life well under control. Her job as a bank manager means she has stable finances with investments; a boyfriend who she thought she loved and who - she thought - loved her in return until one evening when the relationship crumbles as she discovers he's been sleeping with her best friend. So Clara packs up and heads off to the cottage she has bought, sight unseen, to start a new and hopefully better life . . .

There is a lot going on between the covers of this one; Clara begins to make acquaintances from the moment she arrives. Every person in life has their own history, problems and dreams and the author has spun a wonderful tale of individuals who slowly get to know each other. It's a beautifully created story with well-drawn characters and plenty of ups and downs along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it's well worth taking a good look at the cover - just perfect in relation to the contents and one which should draw plenty of attention from readers. A truly satisfying read which I'm very happy to give 4.5*.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley and to Vicky Joss for my spot in this tour; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.
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From the cover to the story itself, Starting Over at Acorn Cottage draws one in and puts its claws in you so that only extreme things will have you put it down. Clara was a wonderful heroine, and Henry a well done flawed hero; The subplot ties into the main plot without feeling contrived or fake, and it is a moving and well written story about how starting over is always possible, especially with a little magic behind it. :-)
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Delightful and Magical 
I love this book. It doesn't neatly fit into a category but has elements of many. There are some sweet romances, magical happenings, one bit of pretty explicit sex and lots of love and humor. There are several messages in the story, the biggest is to forgive yourself. It left me with smiles and a warm buzz. I am certainly looking into this author's prior work as well as look for her new work to be published. I received this ARC from Net Galley for free and this is my honest review.
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With thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review.  What a total delight  of a book fast paced  intriguing  soul searching  EXTRAVAGANZA  never once was there a dull moment  in this outrageously  thought  provoking  book.
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Rating edit: 4.5 stars

'There was always something to look forward to in life, if you looked hard enough and blocked out all the bad news that you couldn’t change.'

What a delightful read! Heartwarming, intriguing, full of warmth, and dark and sad, at times. It's about love, bondings, betrayal, destiny, and most importantly, letting your past/secrets/guilts go. 

'Secrets and guilt get very heavy to carry after a while.’

I loved the setting ___a cosy and charming village, with endearing characters. There's a touch of superstitions and the 'tea leaves symbols, which I found unrealistic but I still liked it, as they build a mysterious aura.

The writing style is very engaging. And what a pretty cover!

If I have to nitpick, I would say, the last chapter or epilogue was unnecessary. I loved how the story ended, before the epilogue, on a satisfying note.

Overall, a lovely, engrossing read.
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Clara has had a series of bad things that happened: raised with an alcoholic and abusive father until she and her mother finally escaped, finding her best friend and boyfriend having an affair, realizing that every relationship she has turns sour. A night of wine-fueled browsing on the internet brought her to Acorn Cottage, bought sight unseen in the little village of Merryknowe, and she’s finally thinking she can fulfill the dream she and her mother had of a cottage in the country.  But the house needs major work, nothing quite seems as it should, and the only place she stopped to grab some food had a very harassed younger woman serving her: and set all of her senses on high alert.  Meanwhile, traveling thatcher and all-around handyman Henry and his young daughter Pansy have arrived in town just to give Clara an estimate, and have found a place to park their camper-van conversion. 

This story brought all of Clara’s issues to the forefront – her relationships never worked because she has always held something back: in blaming herself for issues in her childhood, she has consigned herself to a ‘quick in, quicker out’ history with relationships, and never quite shares all of herself with anyone. Meanwhile, Henry is still mourning the loss of his wife to cancer, and has kept Pansy close, the fear of losing someone again has him unable to see any vision of the future.  With Rachel in the bakery being the only reason that any traffic comes through, and her unique and clever twist on her baking, the micromanagement and abuse from her mother has her insecure and lacking confidence: always waiting for the next shoe to drop. Overseeing it all is Tassie, nearing ninety, she’s a former schoolteacher, with the ability to ‘know things’ whether from her tea leaves, her experience or what she sees. Tassie sees Rachel’s struggles, notices Henry and his daughter, and is intrigued by Clara and the energy she emits. 

Soon personal histories and struggles are shared, quietly at first, then in huge rushes as Rachel’s lack of confidence and shy nature speak to Clara and she starts to work to bring Rachel to see her worth. The relationship between Henry and Clara, and even little Pansy with her childlike way of explaining the world and being wholly honest bring them both to recognition of their attraction, and with a bit of a nudge from Tassie, the whole of both their stories come out.  A lovely story of finding what you need to heal yourself while finding a way to enrich the lives of others – there were issues of trust, abuse, guilt, grief and hope all wound together to bring a smile at the end. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at   I am, Indeed 
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Loved this book. Great characters, easy read, uplifting, funny, romantic and charming. A really nice story that is the perfect escapist read.
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Perfect holiday read, really enjoyed getting to know the characters & couldn't wait to see how the story progressed, so much so read it in an afternoon
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I liked this book a lot, it was one of those story’s that had the feel good factor. I’m glad I got to read this and will be recommending it to my best friend.
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