Last winter she had a plan.
Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.
But a year can change everything…
Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B, but on her own. Christmas looks to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future…
Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new? (Synopsis from Goodreads)
Before I started reading Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry I was expecting it to be a light-hearted, festive novel about a family running a B&B in the English countryside. The image on the front cover made me think about one of my favourite Christmas movies, The Holiday. I imagined that the book would be a bit like that movie: a bit sad at times, but ultimately a fun read that I would want to enjoy year after year. Perhaps my expectations were a bit too lofty though, because I was ultimately disappointed by Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane.
In every creative writing class I have ever participated in, it has been taught that the protagonist of a story needs a purpose. It doesn’t really matter what this purpose is exactly, they just need to yearn to do/say/learn/accomplish something by the end of a story. The purpose should naturally make sense for the character in question. If a character lacks a purpose, then there isn’t really much point to the story being told. This purpose is what keeps the reader engaged with the story. The main issue I have with Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane is that the protagonist Lucy lacks a consistent purpose.
During the course of the story, Lucy experiences a significant personal tragedy, and she spends the rest of the book trying to heal emotionally and move on. In most circumstances, this would constitute a meaningful purpose for a protagonist to have, but it doesn’t really work in the case of Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane for a few reasons. Firstly, this tragedy does not occur until about 40-45% of the way through the book. This meant that for the first hundred pages I found myself wondering what the plot of the book actually was. I read this first section of the book waiting for the drama to actually pick up, because it really constituted little more than a summary of the character’s lives for the first hundred pages. I feel that this could all have been summarised a bit more succinctly. The tragedy was also not entirely unexpected – I had a general idea of what was going to happen about 40-50 pages before it actually occurred.
Secondly, I think it would have been fascinating to read about the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Instead, the author pushes the fast forward button, and before you know it you are reading about Lucy’s life two years after this tragic event. The pacing in this book is, quite frankly, awkward. Thirdly, the plot still does not pick up after this tragedy. I read this book with a sense of impatience, waiting for something to happen. There were a few attempts at creating drama, but these quickly tapered off before they became interesting. I feel like this story had real potential, but it just never really picked up. There are several minor plot points in Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane that I would have loved to read more about, but I never got the chance.
If I were to change one thing about this book, it would be the timeline. I would make the period before the tragedy a bit shorter, and focus a bit more on the immediate aftermath of the tragedy as well. I agree that it was nice to see how the characters moved on after two years, so I would not make any changes to that part of the book. Ultimately, I think that the primary issues with this book are the pacing and the fact that the plot never really picked up.
That being said, I did really enjoy the author’s writing. I love the world that she has created in Burley Bridge, so I will certainly look out for other books by the author. Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane is part of a series of books set in Burley Bridge, but it can be read as a stand alone novel.
I struggled with what rating to give this book, but I ultimately decided on three star instead of two. It’s not a bad book by any means, its just not a great one either. I would like to thank NetGalley and Avon Books for my advance copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Ellen Berry is a pseudonym of Fiona Gibson. She has written three books in the Rosemary Lane series under the name Ellen Berry, and a number of books under the name Fiona Gibson. She currently lives in Scotland with her husband and children.
Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane is a lovely enough story, but it ultimately fell flat. I would read other books by the author though.
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Waterstones (UK): here
Amazon (US): here
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