Wednesday, 19 August 2015

5* review - Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the café round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…

The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?

How I love Cathy Bramley, and how pleased I was to realise that some of my favourite Ivy Lane characters would be popping up in Appleby Farm, and that it was centered around Freya Moorcroft who we had met in the latter half of Ivy Lane.

Freya works in the cafe around the corner from the Ivy Lane allotments, it's just a cover job, as much of Freya's employment seems to be. She feels that she has never really settled anywhere, even though she is now in a relationship with Charlie which she thought was going swimmingly until he breaks it to her that it's just 'a bit of fun' and seems quite unwilling to introduce her to his young son.

When she receives a phone call from her Auntie Sue saying that her Uncle Arthur has had an accident while driving his tractor she is devastated. She jumps on the next train to be with them and help out while her uncle is laid up. When she arrives there she feels guilty that her aunt and uncle have aged considerably, she realises this is due to the fact that she has not visited anywhere near as much as she should have in the past few years.
While she is there she feels the comfort of home, as she has always looked upon the farm as, and wonders whether there is anything really to return back to Kingsfield for.
As she contemplates her decision she uncovers a troubling secret and a catastrophe that puts the future of Appleby Farm in jeopardy.
Freya puts her thinking cap on to try and save her childhood home and the family who virtually raised her, she draws on every resource she can, until she can go no further and has to take the leap of contacting her parents who she has always vowed never to go cap in hand to, but when needs must...

Family tensions run high, especially when Freya's (vile) brother appears on the scene and threatens all the hard work that Freya has achieved, but the rekindled friendship with her childhood bestie Harry proves just the tonic that Freya needs.

I adored watching bubbly Freya return to her childhood home and her lovely Aunty Sue and Uncle Arthur, and watching her character develop from the lost soul she seemed to be in the very beginning - or even further back for those who have read Ivy Lane where she first featured working in the cafe. 

Appleby Farm is beautifully touching and vibrant, all told with Cathy's wonderful, warm sense of humour. I loved the family ethos at Appleby Farm, how fences are mended (physically and metaphorically) and how Tilly Parker (Ivy Lane) celebrated her beautiful wedding at Freya's beautiful vintage tearooms which was described so perfectly I felt I was a guest looking on, with obligatory tears in my eyes.

A perfect feel-good read!

Follow the rest of the tour here:


  1. Ah, Mrs T, I'm touched that you had tears in your eyes! I remember sitting in that cafe with you talking about this book last year when I'd just started writing it - how the past year has flown! Thanks for being part of my blog tour and thrilled that you enjoyed the book.
    Cathy xx

    1. Bless you, you know how much I adored this book! As much as I remember discussing Appleby Farm before it was born, while reading it I never thought once about it, because it was a book that was 'written', it was Freya's tale told xx