There are few things I enjoy more than a visit to a garden, and few books I love more than those by the writer Dora Saint who wrote as Miss Read. So the opportunity to marry these two passions was just too hard to resist.
Published in 1993, Farewell to Fairacre was the penultimate book in the beloved Fairacre series. Miss Read is invited to an evening concert at Rousham House by John Jenkins. Alas, it is dusk when they arrive and the garden is in darkness, but the two of them promise to return in the summer. ‘It’s one of my favourite places,’ John tells Miss Read.
Set deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, Rousham House was built in the early seventeeth-century and remodelled in the eighteenth by William Kent. But it’s the garden by Kent that is the real draw, created in the first phase of English landscape design. My husband and I visited with Dora’s daughter, Jill, on a warm, sunny day in May and the countryside looked resplendent with cow parsley and buttercups dancing in the fields and hedgerows.
And what a delight the garden was with its dovecote, fruit trees, kitchen garden, statues, temples and riverside walk. Jill and I chatted about the Farewell to Fairacre, wondering if the J S Goodall illustration in chapter eight was of the steps at the front of the house. I asked Jill if Rousham helped to place Fairacre as a village, but Jill confirmed that Dora was never precise in her location. Fairacre was ‘a downland village’, blending characteristics of many which Dora knew and a good amount from her imagination too.
We never find out if Miss Read and John Jenkins returned to Rousham to see the gardens in the summer, but I really hope they did because it’s such a magical place. Thank you, Miss Read, for inspiring a wonderful day out!
If you’re also a Miss Read fan, do join my Facebook group ‘I want to Live in Fairacre’. We’re a very friendly bunch and would love to see you there.
There’s nothing quite like a cosying up with a Christmas story during the long winter nights, is there? Here’s my collection of Christmas novellas. Just click/tap any cover to find out more them.
Christmas at the Cove – Love is the greatest gift of all…
Christmas at the Castle – Family is the greatest blessing…
Christmas at the Cottage – Falling in love is the greatest miracle…
The Christmas Collection – Three heart-warming novellas about love, family and friendship. A compilation volume containing Christmas at the Cove, Christmas at the Castle and Christmas at the Cottage, available in ebook and paperback.
The Christmas Rose – Journey back to Suffolk for the long-awaited sequel to The Rose Girls. Will an unexpected visitor threaten the home the Hamilton sisters have worked so hard to build?
Christmas with the Book Lovers – Join the Nightingale family for some festive fun and a few spooky tales by the fire, and find out if a book can really be haunted!
Christmas with Mr Darcy – Spend Christmas with the Austen Addicts at Purley Hall where there’s fun, games and a little bit of mystery!
Last month, I was visited by the lovely Marie Wiik who interviewed me for her exciting new Youtube channel ‘Success Stories’. If you’re a fan of ‘The Chateau Diaries’ on Youtube, you’ll have seen Marie and her beautiful flower studio. She is such an inspiration and her Instagram photos are heavenly. We had lunch here at Old Thatch and then had a walk around the garden, enjoying the flowers together.
Would you like the opportunity to name a character in one of my future books? It could be your own name of even that of a pet or a loved one. Well, here’s your chance to do just that and to raise money for an amazing charity at the same time. Just follow the link below to find out more!
I’m so thrilled to be releasing my new novel, The Beauty of Broken Things – a story about two broken souls brought together via a social media site similar to Instagram. It’s about love, loss and photographs, and the power of friendship to mend broken hearts. Set on the beautiful Suffolk coast, this is my twenty-second novel and I’m so excited to be releasing it!
Have you discovered the The Book Lovers series yet? If you’re missing trips to your local bookstore in this time of lockdown, why not visit the three bookshops in the small market town of Castle Clare in Suffolk? You’re guaranteed to find the perfect read and a romance or two along the way.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend, I’m taking part in a Romance Festival with the team at MYVLF – that’s My Virtual Literary Festival!
You’ll be able to see my interview at 3pm GMT on Saturday 15 February 2020 where it will be followed by a live chat with me and a signed book giveaway, so be sure to sign up to the festival. Registration is free and you’ll also be able to watch the other interviewees on the day as well as access previous interviews with bestselling authors like Jenny Colgan, Cecelia Ahern, Bella Andre and many more.
It really is an exciting thing to be a part of and I hope you’ll join me there.
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.