The Dandelion Years by Erica James
Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.
Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible – and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love…
As you may know, I love Erica James novels! There are only a couple I haven’t read, and I am hoping to read them soon (as well as all the other books I own and haven’t read yet…!) I was excited to read this novel, and I of course enjoyed it!
This is one of my favourite types of novels – set in the present, and set in the past. It had a hint of Rachel Hore and Kate Morton in the writing style – two other authors I really like! I don’t want to give too much away as the synopsis is quite cryptic, but I liked how we jumped from the present day and Saskia’s story, into the diary and WW2. Again, I don’t want to give away too much, but the book felt very well-timed, considering the films which have recently been released.
This novel follows two love stories. I found the story in the diary more gripping than Saskia’s present day story. I struggled a little bit with Saskia. She suffered such a tragic event as a child, but now as an adult her life hasn’t moved on. In many ways, she reminded me of a moody teenager. Even right at the end of the novel, she was still stubborn and I found her hard work. I loved her family though. They had given everything up for her, to try and bring some normality and security into her lost childhood. I loved both her Grandad’s – they were funny and sweet. They made me miss my two Grandad’s, who are sadly not with us anymore.
Like I said, I preferred the story in the diary. I wanted to learn more about the characters and the lives they were leading during WW2. I really enjoyed the historical storyline. I was sucked in and desperate to learn more. It felt relevant and was really engaging. The story was tinged with sadness and the struggle for identity. There was an element of fear and I was hooked.
This isn’t my favourite Erica James book, but it was another novel I have enjoyed. I didn’t like this book as much as her last novel, Summer at the Lake, which is why I am only rating this book 3 out of 5. Erica James writes excellent novels, and there was a lot in this book to recommend it. There are two love stories, there is the search for identity and a study into our families and how as we strive to protect someone we can in fact trap them; and the highlight for me was the diary and the story set in WW2. This is another Erica James novel that I would recommend.