Released: February 2015
This is a book about allotments. Seriously. But it’s also the story of a 30-year-old woman trying to piece her broken life back together with the help of carrots, potatoes and an incredibly welcoming gardening community.
Set in just one year with the changing seasons cleverly marked by the demands of her allotment, Ivy Lane follows the life of Tilly Parker as she moves towns looking for a fresh start where she can mend her broken heart in peace. Sadly for her, the allotment community are keen to welcome her into the fold and all hopes of peace go out the window when a TV crew arrives to film a documentary.
Definitely a mummy-book designed to be read on a beach in the summer, author Cathy Bramley keeps us guessing what happened to Tilly pre-Ivy Lane allotments and how she came to be so sad. Unfortunately, although this keeps us reading, it also slows the pace of the first half of the novel which makes it feel like it takes a long time to get going and might discourage some readers.
The Disney-inspired ending is also a bit too neat and sickly, but does leave you with the warm fuzzy feeling expected at the end of a soppy romantic story like this one.
However, these are the only faults with Ivy Lane. The style of writing is easy and the close-knit world of the allotments with all its stereotypical characters you really would find on a British allotment – from tipsy old men to vegan earth-mummies to fussy committee members – is completely absorbing and believable. Even the cover of the book is painfully attractive and Cath Kidson-esque.
So if you’re looking for a fluffy love story in which to lose yourself, then Ivy Lane is right up your street. But be warned – it will make even the least green-fingered reader sign up for an allotment.