Tindledale is in a tizzy . . .
The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.
After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.
As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .
Really this review should just be four words GO BUY IT NOW but I suppose I should explain the reasons why. The Great Village Show was easily one of my most anticipated releases this year, I had been dying for this book to be released ever since I spent a blissful afternoon devouring book one in the series during my Christmas holidays. This is the second in the Tindledale series and follow up to the brilliant The Great Christmas Knit Off. Alexandra Brown has simply outdone herself quickly endearing me once again to the small village in which live a wonderful cast of characters that bring such joy to each page. I thought the Carrington's series was excellent but now after reading this new release I really feel this is way better and that's saying something considering the success of Georgie and co. With a great title and cheerful cover I didn't even bother reading the blurb I was just too excited and eager to discover the new characters and story lines the author had in store for her readers.
The map included at the beginning of the book is a great addition as it helps you to visualise the layout of the village and all its houses and shops. Then in the prologue we are introduced to Jessie Cavendish as she stands on a hillside overlooking the village. She is relocating from London with her husband Sebastian and triplets - Millie, Max and Olivia. We get the impression that she is reluctant to move and she has misgivings about leaving her friends, family and basically her support system. She is optimistic about the change but you knew from her demeanour and thoughts she was hiding something and I hoped Tindledale would work its magic on her, helping her to find peace within herself. I thought the majority of the focus of the book would be on Jessie but not so.
Instead we meet Meg Singer acting headmistress at the local school. Straight away I just loved Meg, she was full of energy and had a great zest for life. I was easily able to identify with her being a teacher myself and loved the use of her 'scary teacher voice or face' as I'm well used to employing that myself when needed. Meg was someone you would aspire to be. She took on so much but always wanted to achieve perfection or as near to as she could. A single mum to Jack, she is now experiencing empty nest syndrome as he has left for university. Her job with Jack may be for the most part completed so she channels her energies into village life. She has her school and its future at the heart of everything she does and is doing her best to prevent the school from being shut down. I know that feeling when inspectors arrive unexpectedly and strike the fear of god in you. That dreaded feeling if you don't have enough pupils you will lose a teacher or in this case close for good. Alex presents a clear, realistic picture of school life and the juggling act it entails and I would have been disappointed if she had painted the picture in any other way.
Meg is an all rounder, warm, welcoming, a genuinely nice person with no hidden agendas. The residents of the village could see that and that's why they were so willing to give their time for her cause. Tindledale is a beautiful place to live but it is starting to suffer. The villagers are getting older with not a huge influx of new young residents. The shops are not doing as well as they once did considering the new retail park recently opened several miles away. So the genius idea of the village show brings the villagers together in a determined effort to achieve some notoriety and help put Tindledale back on the map. Saving businesses, the school and making the village the place to be, well that is their hope anyway. It was brilliant to see all the villagers work together to achieve something as a community and several characters we had met in book one made a reappearance and bits of info were casually slipped in so we know what they have been up to since we last left them. Of course it's not all plain sailing in the run up to show day but that's what makes this a great read, no one wants to read a story where everything goes to plan. Reading of the ups and downs, problems, fun moments and some romance thrown in make for a much more exciting, gripping read.
You may think this is the usual chick lit. It's not by any means and Alex is well capable of dealing with topical, serious issues but not in an overpowering way that took from the flow of the novel. Instead the problems with Jessie were dealt with in the correct way keeping in mind the light hearted tone of the book. Jessie is going through a tough time, one which unfortunately many women will identify with. Her confidence is at an all time low but you could see underneath a strong woman was waiting to emerge. The community spirit, friendship and togetherness that Tindledale offers may just help her through this. Also there were a lot of characters mentioned but they were slipped in at nice regular intervals and we were given only the briefest of info that was needed. Unlike another book I had read recently where I was bombarded with way too many characters which were then never mentioned again. Here Alex gets it just right and in such a way you hope there will be plenty more to come from Tindledale as there are several characters that seem to me to be just waiting in the background to share their stories with us.
Alexandra Brown can't write quick enough for me and in this new book she continues to set a high standard with excellent writing and a storyline that begs you to keep turning the pages or tapping the Kindle. This is a sure fire Summer hit that has to go straight to the top of the best seller lists .The feel good camaraderie factor is high and Alex as herself mentions in her acknowledgements 'I really hope it puts a smile on your face and warmth in your hearts'. Well your wish has come true Alex because The Great Village Show certainly did that for Me as well as having me laughing aloud quite often. Oh if only Tindledale were real I'd move there in the morning as Alex has created such a wonderful setting with characters you feel are old friends.
Sadly it looks like we'll have to wait until 2016 for our next Tindledale fix, The Mystery of Orchard Cottage, as no Christmas offering from Alex this year. In the meantime sit back and enjoy this charming, delightful read. You won't be sorry you bought it, Tindledale is a special place and so are Alex's books.
I'd like to thank Emma for reviewing The Great Village Show for the blog which we received from the publishers via NetGalley.