Welcome to another recent reads post, where I tell you about a book I’ve read and loved recently. I’m not a book reviewer so please don’t ask me to review your book! I’m just sharing the love for books I’ve read and enjoyed – no negative book posts here.
My second choice this month is Midsummer Magic at Midwynter Hall by Lottie Cardew. Here’s what I thought of it.
An enchanting, standalone, modern rom-com inspired by Jane Austen’s EMMA, about a matchmaking young woman whose heart may be in the right place… some of the time.
Emmeline – Em to her friends – has very little to vex her, except that she hasn’t left her beloved home, Midwynter Hall, in over two years.
But her isolation doesn’t stop her interfering in the lives of others, particularly when it comes to love. As a romance writer, Emmeline obviously knows what she’s doing, increasingly plotting real-life matches rather than fictional ones.
When best friend Polly gets mixed up with the wrong sort of man, Emmeline has no choice but to swoop to the rescue. And when old family friend Jordi seeks solace after women and work troubles, Emmeline has the perfect solution. You see, everything she’s written lately – pairing up lovelorn locals – has somehow (maybe magically) come true. So, if she pens a tale about Polly and Jordi despite their many protests, they’ll thank her eventually, once they’re blissfully happy together.
But no one is more surprised than Emmeline when she finds she wants to write herself into the story. Because as it turns out, believing you’ve never been in love, doesn’t mean you’ve never (unknowingly) given your heart away…
What a wonderful story this was! I knew I’d enjoy it because I always enjoy Lottie Cardew’s books, but this was an absolute pleasure to read from start to finish.
Although it’s the third in the author’s Pebblestow series, you certainly don’t have to have read the other two before reading this, as it works perfectly well as a standalone. I would recommend you do read the other two, though. They’re incredibly special.
Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, this is a thoroughly modern twist on the classic story. Em is a romance writer dealing with mental health issues that have brought her work to a halt and trapped her in her family home, Midwynter Hall.
Living vicariously through her friend, Polly, and the online creative writing course she’s attending, run by her childhood friend, Jordi, she’s convinced herself that she has a gift for bringing people together. When she decides Polly and Jordi would make the perfect couple, she sets to work, despite obvious signals that she’s perhaps not as good at this as she thinks she is.
The setting of Midwynter Hall is so beautifully drawn that I really longed to visit it myself. The author has a wonderful talent for describing places with just a few well-chosen words. Small details bring the setting to life, and I could imagine myself in those rooms, strolling round the grounds, visiting the gatehouse, or sitting on the bench in the secret garden.
Em is a complex character, and despite her flaws you can’t help but feel sympathy for her. Hers is a difficult life, and she’s doing the best she can. She lives with her father, whose love for her is heartwarming but not very helpful. Her mother, who has remarried, is the wiser parent, able to see the situation more clearly. Polly is a wonderful character, and I hope we’ll get to hear more from her in future books.
And then there’s Jordi… I’ll admit I could only picture Johnny Flynn in this role, and he suited it perfectly. I adored Jordi, who carried his own burdens and nursed his secret love for Em with nobility, and a fortitude that must have been pushed to its limit at times.
As always with Lottie’s books, it’s the way this story left me feeling that really matters, and I felt as I always do after being lucky enough to read one of her novels—as if I’d read something sprinkled with magic, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on where that magic came from. There are no spells or witches here, but I turned off my Kindle feeling contented, optimistic, and with a renewed hope that, just maybe, there really is a bit of magic left in this world.
It also made me want to watch Emma again, which I did, straight after I’d finished the book!
I can’t recommend Lottie’s books highly enough, and this one is a worthy addition to the Pebblestow series. Just perfect.