Cover Image: Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage

Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage

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Member Reviews

I've been reading the Aunt Dimity series for many years.  I've loved each and every installment in the series. The characters are lovable, all too human but full of good will towards others. There is love and caring in every one of these books.  A perfect read when you need to escape the real world!
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Nancy Atherton continues with the charming Aunt Dimity series. The little village of Finch continues to be fueled by gossip. Mr. Barlow said "..that houses like to be lived in. They go to rack and ruin if they're left on their own for too long."  The village will not let much go to 'rack and ruin' because neighbors or cottages are not left on their own for very long.  
A newcomer, Mr. Crispin Windle, starts the mystery, who appears to be a loner in Finch..where that just isn't done. The villagers even organize a schedule to monitor the comings and goings of Mr. Windle.  Of course, the Handmaidens hope to capture his attention.  
The three-day rule is shattered when the beloved Lori Shepherd and fellow villager Tommy Prescott jump to conclusions - only with good intentions. 
The mystery of our Mr. Windle and his search for a local landmark provides the village with a sad part of Finch's hidden history, which culminates in probably the most touching part of the book.
I didn't relish the tension between Bree and Mr. Barlow.  It lasted longer than I thought these two characters would allow in light of their mutual fondness.
Even though this book seemed a lighter entry in the Aunt Dimity series, it will find an audience with cozy mystery readers.  4.5 rating overall/5 for the true cozy that it is
Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and Nancy Atherton for the ARC.
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Finch is a small village in England and home to Aunt Dimity. A newcomer arrives who is aloof and turns off the people in the village. Aunt Dimity and an Army veteran go out of the way to reach the newcomer and strike up a friendship.

On a walk one day they stumble over some ruins of a dilapidated mill. The mill holds secrets of children's graves - graves with no identification.

This is the mystery that the three must solve. In the process a true friendship is created.

A good spring read
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Also out this week: AUNT DIMITY AND THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE by Nancy Atherton (Aunt Dimity and The Widow’s Curse) is the latest in the long-running series showcasing Aunt Dimity, a ghost-like figure, plus her god-daughter Lori Shepherd and other residents of Finch, England. This one continues true to form with a new resident, elderly Crispin Windle, moving to the small village and Lori and her nosy friends welcoming him while also trying to learn why he seems so sad. Totally as expected, the Aunt Dimity stories are still a lovely treat and a happy, gentle escape to the English countryside. Just enough suspense (this one is definitely on the light side) for a bit of cozy mystery, too.
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Crispin Windle is the newest resident of Pussywillows, a romantic riverside cottage. Will Pussywillows work its magic on widower Windle? It’s early May and spring is in full bloom. The residents of Finch have an inviolable ritual that dictates how they extend a hand of friendship. They give newcomers three days of grace to settle in and then they descend, sharing a signature dish or an offer to stroll beside the river—gestures geared to elicit an embrace of village life. The need to welcome newbies and gently educate them in Finch’s mores is vital. Shopkeeper Peggy Taxman is particularly shameless in her quest to have all hands on deck.  Mr. Windle better take care: “If Mr. Windle was too weak to resist her blandishments, he’d find himself behind the till at the flower show and the bake sale as well as the village fete.” 

No one leaves anything to chance on the morning of move-in day. American transplant Lori Willis (née Shepherd) and her friends deftly maneuver at Sally Cook’s tearoom to ensure they have the best vantage point to watch the show unfold at Pussywillows. They observe, examine, and dissect each object the movers carry into the house. Unfortunately, it’s a disappointment. The move-in takes no time at all. Windle’s belongings are mundane and underwhelming. There’s nary a sighting of the new occupant. How anticlimactic. 

When Lori gets home, she goes to her study and starts conversing, via handwritten questions and answers, with her dearly departed Aunt Dimity Westwood.  You might call the relationship between the two women supernatural or otherworldly but it’s quintessentially cozy and English. Aunt Dimity was a dear friend of Lori’s mother and at a time when Lori was desperately unhappy and in need of a fresh start, Aunt Dimity left her a cottage in a new country, offering her a fresh lease on life. It’s been harmonious ever since: Lori has lived in Finch for more than a decade. She juggles “the challenging roles of wife, mother, friend, neighbor, gossipmonger par excellence, and community volunteer.” She’s married to American lawyer Bill Willis and has twins Will and Rob, and Bess, a rambunctious toddler. There’s something both comforting and alluring about a village in the Cotswolds, albeit one that attracts an untoward number of mysteries.

Crispin Windle repels all the efforts of folks who want to befriend him. He grudgingly accepts casseroles and baked goods, listens with barely concealed impatience to proffered advice, and seemingly never ventures out of his new home. Lori is an inveterate busybody and worrywart: she’s convinced that something’s seriously amiss with the curmudgeonly Mr. Windle. She and her friend Tommy Prescott, who recently moved to Finch, spot Mr. Windle on a bridge and they are dreadfully alarmed.

His gaze drifted slowly from the bridge’s arch to the river’s rippling surface and back again. His pale features were expressionless, as blank and empty as a block of stone until, abruptly, and for no more than an instant, his breath seemed to catch in his throat and his gray eyes filled with tears. He looked in that brief moment like a man bereft of hope, a man so broken he could scarcely bear the weight of his own thoughts. I could almost see a cloud of anguish close around him as, silently, and once again blank-faced, he reentered his new home and shut the door.

They break the unwritten law that newcomers to Finch must be left alone for three days but needs must. Lori and Tommy batter Mr. Windle’s door until he opens it and Lori blurts out that she’s afraid he might be contemplating suicide. But Mr. Windle is quick to assure them he’s not planning to kill himself. They are somewhat but not entirely reassured and continue to keep an eye on him. A “chance meeting” results in Mr. Windle, Lori, and Tommy making a startling discovery. Omniscient Aunt Dimity, via her exquisite copperplate script, tells Lori that they have uncovered a hidden part of the village’s history—the remains of a Victorian woolen mill. Finch is so proud of its history—Lori wonders why it isn’t common knowledge. The reason soon becomes clear when they stumble upon the graves of children who died working at the mill. Crispin Windle is a retired professor of history with a focus on Derbyshire’s industrial history. He suspected children had been cruelly abused and it’s one of the reasons he moved to Finch.

British philosopher and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood (1889-1943) wrote,

“History is for human self-knowledge… the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is.”

Who were these nameless children? How will the village of Finch react when they learn about the evil neglect of children in their very own backyard? Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage is a prickly and provocative exploration of a village’s past, all whilst allowing readers to revisit a beloved destination.
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3.5 stars, rounded up

Someone new is moving to Finch, which has the entire village on alert. To their shock and horror, the newcomer keeps to himself and rebuffs any and all visits from his new neighbors. With the help of her 2-year-old daughter Bess, Lori storms the castle and learns where the man is from, why he left his former home, and what he hopes to do in Finch.

I've been reading this series for many years, and now each book is like visiting old friends. This story was ok -- not great, not awful -- and it reminded me of how happy I am not to live in a small town where the lack of labels on my moving boxes would send everyone into a tizzy! I like the idea of neighbors looking out for neighbors, but even that has its limits :)

While the book does contain a mystery of sorts, it's not a traditional mystery, more like the kind you'd find in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency stories. There's certainly no murder involved, which may disappoint a lot of readers. I liked the solution that was presented to the mystery in the story, and the way the villagers decided to handle said mystery.

As this series has progressed. I've enjoyed watching Lori & Bill's children grow up, and how the village has changed over the years, and I'll continue the series when the next book is released.
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Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage
by Nancy Atherton 
Pub Date: May 3, 2022
Viking 
Thanks to the author, Viking, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. What a charming mystery where no one is ever murdered.  In the twenty-fifth installment of the bestselling Aunt Dimity series, when an inscrutable newcomer arrives in Finch, Lori is determined to befriend him--and in the process discovers Finch's own heart-wrenching past. 
I love the way of life that  is presented in these books. A kinder, gentler way of life. 
I will be recommending this book. 
4 stars
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This is my go to author when I just want a mystery. The characters are interesting and I can just see a small village behaving this way. I also wanted to know what was going on with the new neighbor, but don't think I could have spent the day watching the cottage!. I loved the happy ending. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I love this series. It’s a consistently delightful read and this new book in the series is no exception. It’s a great cozy, very light, no violence or death so it’s perfect if you need a break from grim reality.
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The only mystery series I read where there is never a murder! Once again Lori and her friends are confronted with a mystery. In this case, who is their new neighbor. Always charming, this series is perfect for anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery full of characters to love
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Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage takes place in a charming little village full of nosy, but good-intentioned, characters. A new neighbor moves into town and he is all anyone can talk about. When he proves to be more mysterious than originally assumed, the community bands together to keep an eye out for him. I found the characters and setting very charming, and the story was just mysterious enough to keep my attention. Because this was the first book I read in the series, I suspect there were some things I missed but found the book to be enjoyable overall despite this.
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Okay, the book did get better but the first few chapters were incredibly annoying -- imagine a dozen busybodies all gossiping at once, out loud, about complicated interpersonal relationships. Yeah, very unpleasant and not a good way to draw in readers. Because I'd read other books by this author I preserved and it eventually got better. Not a mystery like her other books but more tied to tiny village gossip and poking noses into other's relationships. It did eventually end happy. As written, I wouldn't recommend it but perhaps certain types of fans will be happy to see a new book in this series. 

Original review
OMGosh, is this book going to be full of boring gossip about dozens of people all the way through? I requested this book especially because I'd read a few Aunt Dimity books in the past when I needed some lighthearted reading but this one is driving me batty and I'm only at 14%! I'll just come back and update the review if I can get to 50% without screaming.
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I am sure readers of cozy mysteries will be glad to see this book in our collection. I have enjoyed this series since the first book and admire the author's ability to let her characters grow. This is a must-read addition to a beloved series.
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This was a lovely book. It was nice to read a mystery without bloodshed. The characters are very real, and you feel like you would know them if you met them on the street. And Finch is the sort of little town you wish were real.
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The charming and delightful Aunt Dimity series gives us a glimpse into a gentler, more caring way of life that is so often missing these days. Mostly character driven, with the village a main character as well, we learn more about its inhabitants with each book. With new characters constantly being introduced the series is never boring, nor is there a lack of plots. Throughly enjoyable and low key. it’s a wonderful respite from the world.
In this book, a new neighbor moves to the enchanted cottage, looking so sad and forlorn the villagers decide to keep an eye on him at all times. As they try to crack his armor, because he’s keeping them at arms length, the gossip train is full steam ahead.
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