Thursday 11 May 2017

Down on Daffodil Lane by Rebecca Pugh

Published by HQ Digital on August 8, 2016

Down on Daffodil Lane is Rebecca Pugh’s third novel. Rebecca’s books (so far) are light, relaxing and escapist reads with dreamy settings and endearing characters. This one is no different.

The book begins and we meet Maria, who is moving into a cottage on Daffodil Lane for a few weeks. She is not in a good way and is struggling to smile or be sociable thanks to her husband’s affair, and she is in desperate need of an escape from the events that happened back home. She has decided that she has enough to keep her going so she doesn’t even need to step out of the cottage her mum’s friend is letting her stay in, but then the opportunity of a job at a local café comes up and things begin to change.

Maria is a sweet, likeable character. At the beginning she is quite vulnerable and understandably shaky after her divorce. I could feel her need to get away from the sadness and hurt she felt back home. At times her setback made her seem younger than she was, and I was surprised to learn that she was in her early thirties, but the more we learn about her the more I could see that a setback could affect someone of any age, just like it did Maria. I found I was rooting from her early on, hoping for her to overcome the funk she was in over her ex. Sometimes I found myself frustrated at how she always brought everything back to her ex-husband, but only frustrated in the way I thought she deserved better and wanted her to be over him. Watching Maria stand on her own two feet in this book, with the support of some family and friends, is really satisfying and she is a character you’ll definitely want to have a happy ending.

It’s quite a way into the book before Maria meets Brad, a man who catches her eye inside the local pub. She was fascinated by him and he was drawn to her too. I didn’t love Brad. He was a nice character but I felt like his character could have been developed further and whilst this book was about Maria coming out of her shell and getting through a tricky part of her life, I felt this made the romance lack any real sparks or realism. Brad and Maria could relate to each other because of their previous bad relationship experiences and I thought that was a nice way for the author to begin their relationship, but just a little further into the book and the feelings they were proclaiming were much more than that which I thought was quick even for the sweetest of romance novels. For me, given the length of the novel, as a reader I would have preferred for them to just have the early relationship feelings and not necessarily fall in love as that would take away slightly from the believability and also detract a bit from Maria’s recovery from a bad breakup.

The pacing was where I had my biggest issue with this book. It is actually set over quite a long timeframe but it didn’t feel like that. The moments I felt needed more development were rushed and the more menial aspects to the story, such as Maria's decorating, seemed to go on too long. There were many parts of the book I liked, such as the friendship Maria built in her time on Daffodil Lane, as well as the blossoming relationships that both she and Millie were at the beginning of. Neither story is left particular open, so it's not that I had unanswered questions, but I felt the book lacked the things in between, the feelings and the emotions and the ups and downs. I got that Maria had had everything thrown at her before the timeline of the book began, so things weren't necessarily going to be too rough for her here, but the things that did happen all felt a bit contrived.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book, and all of Rebecca's books so far, is the beautiful description and detail she puts into the picturesque setting. Daffodil Lane sounded really dreamy and made this an ideal spring read as what better time to read this book than out in the garden on a sunny spring day with daffodils blooming both in and outside the book. Rebecca has a way with words that can make even the dullest of settings sound enchanting and magical. We are treat to another gorgeous location in Down of Daffodil Lane and it is brought to life beautifully.

Despite my issues, I found Down on Daffodil Lane to be a sweet book with empowering new friendships and a fictional setting I really wished was real. It’s an ideal book to read out on a sunny day – and I’m looking forward to reading the next book from Rebecca Pugh too.

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