Today, I am happy to be welcoming Ellen Berry and the blog tour for her new novel, The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane which was released on 7th September 2017.
Growing up in a Yorkshire village, Roxanne Cartwright couldn’t wait to escape and make her place in the world. Now, thirty years later, she’s a fashion editor living a glamorous life of perennial singlehood in London – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne finds her career under threat, she feels herself pulled back to the quiet village she’d been so desperate to leave.
As Roxanne reacquaints herself with life on Rosemary Lane, she slowly makes a surprising discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a single dad trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into an unexpected friendship.
Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent years trying to escape?
I’ve reviewed The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane below but first, to celebrate the release of her new book, Ellen has written an exclusive short story. Enjoy.
Home Alone (Part 2) by Ellen Berry
The rest of the evening was lovely. The wine helped Jo to relax, and by the time they stepped back into the sleek, modern hotel, she had convinced herself that Hannah hadn’t noticed the missed call on her mobile. Maybe it was out of charge, she thought as they took the lift to their room. She’d try again in the morning, before they left. She was sure everything was okay.
Jo woke early with sunlight streaming in through the window. She felt silly now, being so worried last night. She looked fondly at Tom, who was still asleep, and gently kissed his cheek. As she slipped out of bed and pulled on a soft white robe, she wished their own home was neat and understated like this room. With Hannah’s friends constantly dropping by and strewing their coats and shoes about, their house was perpetually messy. What was Hannah doing now, she wondered? Having a lie in? Or getting stuck into that essay? She called home, then Hannah’s mobile – still no reply – and curled up on the bed beside Tom. “Morning, darling,” he murmured. “Have fun last night?”
“It was lovely,” she said.
“Fancy going to gallery or something after breakfast? Or we could go to the castle…”
“I’d rather head back,” she said.
Tom sat up and frowned at her. “We don’t need to you know. There’s loads to see and it seems a shame to waste the opportunity. I told Han we’d be back later afternoon…”
“Oh, I know,” Jo said, “but I’ve got a bit of a headache after all that wine last night. D’you mind if we just head back?”
“You’re joking,” Tom snapped.
“I’m not, Tom. It’s been lovely coming away with you but I really want to get back.”
Shaking his head, Tom climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom, banging the door behind him. Hearing the shower surge into life, Jo perched on the edge of the bed. She didn’t want to be a killjoy, but she was ready to go home now. She showered as Tom dressed, and they were both subdued over breakfast.
“Want to let Hannah know we’re on our way?” Tom asked as they sped down the A1.
“Oh, let’s surprise her,” Jo said, wonder if she might start decluttering that very day. She thought of their beautiful hotel room and decided that it was time to pare things back at home. She smiled, feeling a surge of motivation. Perhaps the night away had done her good after all.
Tom’s mood lightened too, and by the time they arrived at the village, he was humming along to a jazz song on the radio. As he parked in front of their house, he turned and smiled at his wife. “Sorry I was a bit grumpy this morning,” he said. “I just felt as if you didn’t want to spend time with me.”
“Of course I do,” Jo exclaimed, hugging him. “I love you, Tom. All these years together and you’re still the person I like being with most of all.” He kissed her, and they climbed out of the car and headed into the house.
“Han?” Tom called out. “We’re back, love.”
“Oh!” came a gasp from the living room. Setting her bag on the hall floor, Jo felt a surge of relief as their daughter hurried towards them.
“Hello, darling,” she said, hugging her.
“Hi, Mum. Hi, Dad. Did you have a good time?”
“Lovely, thanks,” Jo said, noticing that her daughter was clutching a cleaning cloth. “What have you been doing? Not cleaning, are you?” She chuckled. Housework was never top of Hannah’s priority list.
“Yes,” she said, grinning. “Thought I’d make it really nice for you and Dad coming back. Want to see?”
“Sure,” Jo laughed, her eyes widening as she and Tom followed Hannah into the living room. What a transformation. The messy piles of magazines had disappeared from the coffee table, and instead of being jammed on haphazardly, the books were all neatly aligned on the shelves. There was a smell of furniture polish in the air, and Jo spotted that the Hoover was plugged in.
“Well?” Hannah said, grinning. “What d’you think off all my hard work?”
“It’s amazing,” Tom exclaimed.
“It’s lovely,” Jo gasped. “In fact, it’s as nice as our hotel room in Edinburgh.”
Hannah laughed. “Well, I thought it was about time I did my share around here.” Jo nodded, taking in the new sense of order and calm. How silly she’d been, cutting their trip short because she was desperate to come home and check on Hannah. How did Tom put up with her, she wondered? And Hannah too, for that matter? With a rush of pride for her family, she smiled at Tom, and he squeezed her hand.
She was lucky, Jo thought. She had a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter who’d obviously been slaving away for hours. She saw that Hannah had dark circles under her eyes, and she looked pale and exhausted. Then something else caught her eye. Something that made her clasp a hand to her face. Poking out from behind the sofa were two very large, hairy and clearly male feet, and the toes were starting to twitch.
Tom followed her gaze. “What on earth…” he gasped.
“What’s wrong?” Hannah asked, turning even paler.
“Er, Hannah…” Jo croaked as the owner of the feet yawned loudly, stood up to his full six feet in height and stepped out from behind the sofa.
“Oh, man,” he muttered, raking a hand through his disheveled hair. “Does this mean the party’s over?”
My verdict on The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane:
The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane is part of the Rosemary Lane series and is the latest novel by Ellen Berry.
As this is the second book in the series, I was a little worried as I had not read The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane. However, this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this novel. sufficient back story is given but the story and pace goes along nicely.
If you’re familiar with this series, this novel focuses primarily on Roxanne, who is Della’s sister. She has been living in London and working at a fashion magazine for many years. She thought she was good at it. However, when changes happen in her life, she finds herself back in Burley Bridge and staying with her sister, Della.
Could going back to the childhood home she fought to leave be just what she needs? Well, you’ve got to read to find out.
This book, for me is Roxanne trying to rediscover herself.
She’s an interesting character. She fights between what she feels she should do and what is best for her. Sometimes you have to go back and gain perspective.
I thought I did have the story figured out but it didn’t end how I thought it would. There were some surprises along the way.
Roxanne is in her forties but in my opinion, she’s relatable to people of all ages. I think all of us at some point go through a stage where we don’t know where and what we are going to do. Outside sources are doing their best to disrupt lives too.
All the supporting characters are great. I want to know more about Isabelle and Michael.
There is a lovely big dose of warmth, humour and love in this book. It’s perfect for the current unpredictable weather when all you want to do is curl up with a blanket and a book.
I have fast become a fan of Ellen Berry and look forward to visiting the residents of Burley Bridge again soon.
The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane was released by Avon on 7th September. It’s available in most UK bookshops. To view on Amazon, click https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Bakery-Rosemary-Lane
Ellen Berry is an author and magazine journalist. Originally from rural West Yorkshire, she has three teenage children and lives with her husband and their daughter in Glasgow. When she’s not writing, she loves to cook and browse her vast collection of cookbooks, which is how the idea for this story came about. However, she remains the world’s worst baker but tends to blame her failures on ‘the oven’.