Ella's marital arrangements are less than conventional. In fact, her marriage is downright strange altogether. After marrying her artist boyfriend, later to become her very famous artist husband, Ella's life was far from the norm. Unfortunately, their years of marital bliss have turned into marital disharmony and her now ex husband Sebastian lives next door to her on their small farm. Sebastian appears to want very little to do with Ella which continues to break her heart. Ella is torn between her continuing love for Sebastian and her 'friendship' with a very handsome and romantic gardener called Ludo. Throw into the mix some rather eccentric and difficult parents with marital problems of their own, a snobby sister, some crazy chickens and two unruly and surly teens and you have what is Ella's chaotic life.
Ella is a sort of heroine underdog. Throughout this book and I wanted Ella to have so much more. I wanted so desperately for her to gain some sort of control over her life. Instead, poor Ella spends much of her time trying to please everyone and forgetting about her own needs and wants. And, even when she does eventually decide to put herself first, it doesn't quite work out. There were a lot of laughs to be had throughout this book but also an undercurrent of sadness and 'what if's' and 'if only'. For me, Ella epitomises what a lot of women become - someone to fix everyone else but themselves. Ella's crazy lifestyle left me exhausted on her behalf! She is torn in so many different directions that she is reaching breaking point.
Essentially, this book is a story about love lost, love found and love rekindled . It's about the complexities of relationships and how the dynamics within those relationships can change and evolve. It is also about sacrifices. Ella sacrifices so much of herself to please everyone and 'fix' every problem. Ella's family are essentially not all they appear to be. Her snobbish sister does not have quite as perfect a life as she would like to portray and Ella's parent's have some fixing of their own to do - not only within their own marriage but with their relationship with their children. At first, Ella appears to be a weak and indecisive character who is a bit of a doormat. However, Ella is more complex than that. She is simply struggling to survive in a situation that she is unable to fix. Yet, her love for her family is unwavering and her sacrifices for them go unnoticed. She is merely a woman trying to keep her family together.
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. No sooner had I turned the last page than my mother in law had swiped the book from under my nose. She is a Catherine Alliott fan and now I can understand why.
*I received a review copy from Penguin Books for an unbiased and honest review.