But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.
As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?
Ivy Lane was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.
I originally purchased and pre-ordered the 4 separate installments of Ivy Lane but after reading the Spring episode I decided that I was too impatient and didn't like the waiting before being able to read the next episode so decided to wait until all 4 episodes had been published before reading the rest. Even though I already had the complete version on my Kindle I was extremely thankful to Sarah at Transworld for sending me a paperback copy and inviting me to be part of the Ivy Lane blog tour which starts today.
When we first meet Tilly Parker she has recently moved to a new town and started a new job as a means for a fresh start to rebuild her life, it's obvious that something dramatic has happened in her past that has left her a shadow of who she was but we have no idea what it was. On the spur of the moment she decides to do something she's never done before, gardening, after seeing an advert for an allotment in nearby Ivy Lane and it's there that she meets a whole range of colourful characters who welcome her with open arms and useful tips, and over time as the seasons change we see Tilly start to blossom and her story unfold...
Tilly was such a delightful, albeit private, character who you couldn't help but like which is why it's clear to see why everyone she met fell in love with her including a couple of handsome leading men. As the snippets of her story were being revealed I was desperately hoping that she would start to live her life to the full and get the ending she so richly deserved.
As for the secondary characters there are too many to go through them all but a couple of my personal favourites would have to be Gemma, who was the complete opposite of Tilly which is why I think their friendship worked so well, and Alf, the grandad figure that Tilly respected and I have to confess that one of the storylines involving him did bring a tear to my eyes.
It is hard to believe that Ivy Lane is only Cathy's second novel as the writing is so beautiful, she has created interesting characters that you can really relate to and a real sense of community that draws you in so that you feel you are part of it. I even found myself interested in the gardening snippets and that's from someone who has never had green fingers or any inclination to grow plants or vegetables.
Although I loved the concept of the story being split into four parts to coincide with the seasons and the changes that we see in Tilly over the year, I like to read a story from start to finish and not wait months for the next part. And having just finished reading the complete version I'm definitely glad I did wait especially after the way the Summer and Autumn episodes finished, I would have been climbing the walls wanting to know what happened next... This is also why I'll be waiting until all 4 parts of Cathy's new serial, Appleby Farm, are available but at least this time I'll only have to wait a few months as the installments are monthly with the final episode being published in May.
What more can I say other than I loved Ivy Lane from start to finish and would have gladly sat and read this in a single sitting if only I had the time to do so. If this is anything to go by I can only imagine what treats Cathy has in store for us in Appleby Farm.