We’ve just returned from a holiday in the Cotswolds, staying at a beautiful Field House – a Landmark Trust property that looked as if it belonged in a Jane Austen novel.
Whilst there, we visited Great Chalfield Manor which has featured in Poldark, Wolf Hall and on the cover of my novel The Rose Girls.
How exciting it was to see this special place and, most wonderful of all, the garden was full of roses.
Great Chalfield is owned by the National Trust, but is still lived in by the family and we were treated to a guided tour by the lady of the manor. And – yes – I could very easily imagine Celeste, Gertie and Evie living quite happily in this beautiful ancient home.
I love summer! I always try to set aside plenty of time not only to spend in our own garden, but to visit lots of other gardens too.
At the end of June, we visited the wonderful garden at Pashley Manor in Kent. I wanted to see the roses there and I wasn’t disappointed. I truly felt as if I’d stepped into the pages of The Rose Girls.
We also stopped in for a quick look at the walled garden at Scotney Castle where I berated myself for not growing Paul’s Himalayan Musk. Isn’t it a beauty?
And just last week, we spent the afternoon at Great Dixter. I’d previously visited in May, but this was my first summer visit – on the hottest day of the year so far! At least that gave us the perfect excuse to sit on almost every bench and step around the garden.
Every time I visit a beautiful garden, I can’t help wondering if I should write another garden-based novel. I so loved writing my trilogy, and interest in the healing power of gardens has never been greater. Perhaps I should take my notebook outside and see what happens…
Last Sunday, I travelled to the heart of the Cotswolds to a very special place – Wood Green near Witney – the inspiration behind Miss Read’s fictional ‘Thrush Green’.
I’ve visited here before, but it’s always a joy to see the golden homes nestled around the green, and it’s even better that I got to meet up with Dora Saint’s daughter, Jill, for a very special performance…
The wonderful Redlynch Players were performing ‘Miss Read Remembered’ by Ron Perry in the church, and how lovely it was to see the characters of Thrush Green come to life! Mrs Curdle’s caravan looked absolutely splendid, and Ron Perry really captured all the warmth and humour of Miss Read’s story. There was a particularly moving scene between Dr Bailey and Mrs Curdle and the choice of music really added to the beauty and poignancy of the production.
I thought I’d travelled a long way from Suffolk to see the play, but there were at least three people in the audience from America! The appeal of Miss Read is truly international and it’s a real testimony to her writing that this novel, first published in 1959, is still so appealing.
I’ve had so many lovely reviews for One Last Summer and I thought I’d share some of them here. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and review the book. This was an emotional one to write and I’m so thrilled that it’s touching a chord with readers.
‘Compassionately told, searingly emotional and wonderfully uplifting. One Last Summer is a very special book that manages to break your heart and lift your spirit in equal measures.’ Bookish Jottings
‘An eloquent, gorgeous read! It’s the type of novel which touches a part of you that you weren’t really aware was there… a memorable read from an accomplished and talented author.’ – Grace J Reviewer Lady
‘There are times in this novel where I smiled, laughed, got sad, cried – lots of emotions… There is sadness but a lot of warmth and a powerful message at its centre. Thank you, Victoria, for a wonderful novel.’ Novel Kicks
‘A beautiful weepy.’ – The Divine Write
‘Oh my word, ‘One Last Summer’ is one seriously emotive read that got to me in more ways than one… The author certainly knows how to tug on the heartstrings and then some.’ – Ginger Book Geek
‘My overall feeling after reading One Last Summer is what an incredibly talented writer Victoria Connelly is… The writing is sensitive, realistic and thought-provoking but despite such a sad subject matter I was left feeling very uplifted.’ – That Thing She Reads
‘A beautiful life-affirming book!’ – Jan’s Books Buzz
‘Sometimes a story really speaks to you. This is one of those stories. It’s a very special moment when you get more than a story from a book, and here you get so much more: inspiration and courage to do what makes your heart sing.’ Just 4 My Books
A huge thank you to all the readers who have bought my new novel, One Last Summer. It’s been an exciting week which has seen it enter Amazon’s Top 100 in both the UK and Australia, and it’s currently Number 14 in the UK chart.
Amazon has chosen it for a special spring promotion and UK readers can buy it for just £1 and Australian readers for $2. This is a limited time only price, though, so grab a bargain while it lasts!And thank you to everyone who has left a review. This was an emotional story to write and I’m so thrilled that readers are responding to it so well.
One Last Summer is featured in today’s Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon.co.uk.
You can get a copy of the ebook for just 99p (today only 20 March 2019).
See Amazon link below…
It’s less than three weeks until my new novel – One Last Summer – is published. I can’t tell you how excited I am for you all to read this story and I’m thrilled to share the cover with you here. My publisher has given me a fresh new look and I love it!
Publication date: 5 February 2019
Now is a great time to grab a garden bargain! The third novel in my English Country House and Garden series – The Heart of the Garden – is just £1 on Amazon in the UK.
Morton Hall, with its beautiful, ruined grounds and its reclusive mistress, Emilia Morton, is full of mysteries. For freelance editor Anne Marie, the wild garden has become a serene and secret refuge from her loveless marriage. The only other regular visitor is Cape, the hall’s part-time gardener, who is forbidden to tend to anything except the magnificent maze or to meet his enigmatic employer.
When Emilia dies, Cape and Anne Marie are astonished to find themselves among an unlikely group of villagers named in her strange will. Morton Hall, including its dazzling art collection and once glorious grounds, can belong to the community forever, but only if they work together to bring the garden back to life within a single year.
As they try to put their differences aside to restore the tangled grounds, long-buried secrets are unearthed. Can the past be forgiven as hope and new love begin to bloom?
I do love a Christmas story. There’s something so special about snuggling up on the sofa by the fireside and losing yourself in a festive tale. Perhaps that’s why I’ve written six Christmas stories of my own!
And this year’s Christmas novella – The Christmas Rose – is very special indeed as we journey back to Suffolk to find out what’s been happening to the Rose Girls. I had so much fun returning to Little Eleigh Manor, and let me tell you something – it looks so very beautiful in the snow!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for your support this year – for buying my books, for leaving reviews and for keeping in touch on my social media sites. I love hearing from you all and I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!