Reviewed by Emma Crowley
When Lizzie loses her larger-than-life dad she doesn’t know how to move forward. Encouraged by a childhood dream she shared with her beloved father, she is determined to continue his legacy and moves to the old Mill on Magnolia lane, a place he had always longed to own.
Restoring the old windmill is a much bigger job than Lizzie bargained for, especially when she is distracted by her new next door neighbour Jude, who has temptingly twinkly eyes and a body to die for. But when Jude’s ex- girlfriend Harriet arrives back on the scene, Lizzie begins to wonder if life wasn’t far simpler before she moved to the mill. Especially when it emerges that Harriet knows something about Jude’s past, something that could shatter her new start and her heart into smithereens...
Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Mill on Magnolia Lane to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant has the most beautiful and colourful cover perfect for this time of year when you want something light and refreshing that draws you in and invites you to read. With Easter coming up this would be an ideal read if you have some time off or are planning a break away to some where warm and sunny. Although the eventual outcome might be slightly predictable, there are still a few twists, turns and bumps along the road to keep the reader entertained until we reach the conclusion.
Lizzie Lovell has always been attracted to the abandoned mill on Magnolia Lane ever since she was a child. Every time her father drove past it she felt there was something calling her there. Her father himself wished that he could buy it and restore it to its former glory instead of leaving it sitting there rotting and decaying. But that was never meant to be. Now Lizzie is a grown up women and one who is faced with some life changing decisions. Her family are trying to come to terms with the recent death of her father and, although he had been separated from Lizzie's mother Gwendolyn, his absence is deeply felt. Lizzie's love life is not that great either since her sudden and devastating split from Evan, the reasons for which become clearer much further on. When the reasons did become evident I felt more empathy towards Lizzie and I could see why she was so hesitant to place her trust in a new relationship given how hurt and broken she had been by past experiences. But up until that point I found her frustrating and wished she would just make up her mind and say exactly what she thought. Prior to this Lizzie takes a huge leap of faith into the unknown, she decides to buy the mill on Magnolia Lane in the hopes of getting it working again. In turn she can produce her own flour hopefully to sell on or to use for products in a shop/café she wishes to get up and running. Will this decision prove to be the best thing she has ever done or will it cause more trouble than its worth?
Once Lizzie moved on site into a caravan while building renovations were being carried out I thought the plot line regarding the mill itself and Lizzie's long term ambitions took a back seat and the more personal side of the story came to the fore. As Lizzie had contracted a builder to do the work it wasn't up to her to do any of the jobs. I think if she herself had been doing some of the work and needed help from friends it would have been excellent because the title and parts of the blurb suggests this is a personal quest Lizzie has set for herself. But I think this took much of a back-seat as her personal and family life came to the fore. I would have preferred a balance of the two and to see Lizzie struggle that little bit more when it came to the mill and reaching the point of success rather than so much focus on her brewing relationship. I just felt the mill side of things came too easily and a little hardship and pressure would have added some spice to the story.
As soon as Lizzie arrives to face the daunting task of seeing the mill back to working order and getting people in place to organise and restore everything she meets her new neighbours Jude and his brother Charlie. Jude has been raising Charlie since the death of their parents as Charlie has learning difficulties but he is one of the stand out characters in this story. He was really well written and portrayed so well. He added humour and warmth when things started to get too tense and he was just the most loveable person. Right from the moment Lizzie sets eyes on Jude she feels a connection and soon they are in a relationship, I thought this all happened so quickly. Within a few days of arriving, having sworn off men and relationships, she had fallen hook, line and sinker. OK Jude was written in such a way that I think all readers would fall in love with him but he did come with attachments and complications and I just thought yes this is a love story but it was just all too fast. I would have loved and a bit more hesitation and getting to know each other more before embarking full scale into a loving unit. But the more the story developed I realised this was more about dealing with how a couple attempt to stay together when faced with many challenges.
The above mentioned attachments and complications rear their ugly head more than once as we continue through the story and Lizzie is faced with many challenges and questions. Her loyalty is severely tested when it comes to Jude but also when dealing with the unexpected arrival of her sister Gracie from London. Gracie is fleeing a relationship but she soon discovers she too has brought something extra to the oasis Lizzie has envisaged for herself which is rapidly turning into a maelstrom of emotions and problems. I admired Lizzie for taking in Gracie and working on their sisterly relationship because I would have told her where to go considering she was up to her eyes with keeping an eye on work on the mill and trying to establish could things with Jude work out? Then into the equation comes their step mum Florentina who again was a lovely character and was there to give emotional support when needed. I really wanted Lizzie to express to Jude how she was feeling about certain things. I thinks she was slightly jealous as to what was going on and she wasn't ready for a competition for someone's affections. It was either her or nothing but Jude was caught between a rock and a hard place. Trust and being open with one another were two things that needed to happen and I questioned would the ever occur?
The Mill on Magnolia Lane started off well but then I felt it lost its way in the middle before picking up again towards the end. I thought a storyline that came in towards the end seemed to come out of nowhere and I understand it was used as a way of bringing the family together and getting everything out in the open but I don't think it needed to happen. I would have preferred something rather not so drastic and would have liked to have seen something else occur in its place. As for Jude and Lizzie will their trust and commitment issues just prove too difficult too overcome? Well you'll have to read this book to find out. Although I did enjoy this book, it lacked a little bit of sparkle for me that I normally find present in Tilly Tennant's books. It's not my favourite book by this author but I am glad I read it in order to discover did Lizzie fulfil her dreams of bringing the mill house back to life. This is a quick, light read ideal for when you have an hour or two spare to sit down and relax.