The Country Escape by Jane Lovering

The Country Escape is a delightful story of new beginnings. Katie and her daughter Poppy have moved to a run-down cottage in Christmas Steepleton on the Dorset coast. This is to be their safe haven away from her controlling ex-husband, Luc. Harvest Cottage needs a bit of work, but for the immediate future it will suit Katie and Poppy just fine. A local film production company sees its potential as the ‘house of a serial killer’, and the fees they are willing to pay will give Katie a bit of breathing space to sort her life out.

One morning, not long after they moved in, they wake to find a horse in the back garden, and this is how they meet Gabriel. He explains that Patrick was pulling a traditional gypsy caravan owned by Granny Mary, who was suddenly taken ill and had to go to hospital. Although not keen, Katie agrees he can stay until alternative arrangements can be made, and the caravan in the garden makes a great refuge when the filming has taken over the house.

Despite the cover, there is nothing twee about this book; it depicts flawed characters with real-life problems such as bullying, sexual stereotyping and the devastating prospect of sight loss. As a refreshing change, Gabriel is not the usual ‘alpha male’ main character. He is very creative and among other things makes and sells beautiful patchwork quilts.

The atmospheric setting is shown in the vivid descriptions of the autumnal Dorset countryside. The cast of quirky but believable secondary characters results in a humorous story with a positive message; no matter what the problem is, there is always hope.

I read and enjoyed a lot of Jane Lovering’s early books, so when The Country Escape came up on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to review it, and was not disappointed. Katie and Gabriel help each other to see their problems in a new light, and so are able to overcome the past and move on.

Thanks to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.