‘Coming Home To Holly Close Farm’ by Julie Houston

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm: Addictive, heart-warming and laugh-out-loud funny by [Houston, Julie]


Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents. Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun.

Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.

As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm.


My Review

I have had the distinct pleasure of reading and reviewing a couple of Julie’s books now.  I love the way in which she writes drama, combining the serious with the humorous.  She just seems to get the balance spot on.  I couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy of her new book called ‘Coming Home To Holly Close Farm’.  It was well worth the wait because I absolutely loved it but more about that in a bit.

I absolutely loved the characters of Charlie Maddison and Great Granny Madge and I took to them straight away.  I really felt for them both.  When we first meet Charlie, she thinks that she is in a loving relationship with a man, who has to work away a lot.  Well one thing is correct- the fact that she was with a man, but he neglected to tell her that he was actually married with children and when he was working away, he was really with his family.  Charlie had no inkling about that and of course she has the rug pulled from under her feet- losing her job, her relationship and her home in the blink of an eye.  So she does what most people in that position would want to do- she goes home to her parents for a bit of TLC.  I guess that you have to hit rock bottom to appreciate what is important in life and Charlie has certainly hit rock bottom.  Whilst she is at home, Granny Madge discloses that she owns a property that she hasn’t touched for over 60 years but she tells Charlie that she wants Charlie and Charlie’s sister to renovate the property and hopefully move in.  Granny Madge has had one hell of a life and she has managed to pack a lot into her lifetime.  Granny Madge has suffered loss and heartbreak over the years too and the problems she has faced are gradually revealed as the story progresses.  I would have loved a Granny like Granny Madge.

Oh my goodness me, I picked this book up at the right time.  I needed a distraction and to escape for a while.  Well this book certainly ticked both boxes and then some.  The story is told from the points of view of Charlie and Granny Madge with chapters set in the past telling us all about what happened to Madge and chapters in the present narrating Charlie’s story.  Setting the book in two different periods of time works really well and the story flows seamlessly.  I absolutely love learning about somebody’s history and finding out about Madge was truly fascinating and at times heart breaking.

By the time I got to the bottom of the first page, I was hooked on this book and for me the book became ‘unputdownable’ from that point onwards.  Reading ‘Coming Home To Holly Close Farm’ was addictive.  It was as if I had a fear of missing something if I put the book down.  The more I read, the more I wanted to read and the quicker the pages seemed to be turning.  I took no notice of how quickly the time was passing or how much I had read because I was caught up in the moment/ story as it were.  I soon seemed to finish the book which I was most disappointed about because I was enjoying the characters, the storylines and the author’s writing style so much that I just wanted the book to continue on and on.

For me, ‘Coming Home To Holly Close Farm’ is brilliantly written.  The author has a writing style that is easy to get along with and she uses such vivid descriptions that she makes me feel as though I am part of the story myself.  I felt as though I was right there with Charlie and Granny Madge.  I felt like both ladies were my friends by the time I had finished the book.  There were times where I wanted to jump inside the pages of the book to give the ladies a hug and when I wanted to chase after Charlie’s married lover with a pair of rusty and blunt scissors in an attempt to sever part of his anatomy if you get my drift.  I know, I know I get far too involved in fictional stories but if I am really enjoying a book then I tend to ‘live’ the story as if it were real.

In short, Julie Houston has done it again.  She has written a heart felt, dramatic and at times humorous book that will tug at your heartstrings and make you smile.  I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to see what Julie comes up with next.  Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.


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