When I was contacted by Allie Cresswell with a view to joining the blog tour for her new release I was delighted to accept. I’ve been meaning to read her books for a while and this one sounded intriguing.
Several combined occurrences cause writer Dee to pack her belongings, leave her life behind and just drive without a destination in mind…her unreliable and untruthful partner, the death of her father and resulting estrangement from her brother, and the fact she desperately needs inspiration for her next book. The last straw was her discovery of missing personal items and money from her purse. So along with Bob the spaniel, Dee hits the road hoping to find her inspiration.
Eventually Dee ends up in a small, remote village on the wild and dramatic coast of Cumbria where she meets Marjorie, the local vicar, and her daughter, Olivia (who I thought was portrayed extremely well) on her arrival, and through them discovers Winter Cottage is available for her to rent.
It was not a pretty village and yet it had about it a certain characterful appeal, conjuring images of a frontier—an outpost on the edge of the map—beyond which there be dragons.
The graveyard adjoining the church gave Dee the germ of an idea, which was fuelled as she became aware of the history of the village, its previous residents and their impact locally. Her narrative began to take shape…and then to take on a life of its own, the lines between fact and fiction merging into one. I love that The Cottage on Winter Moss is a book within a book.
I stood in the clearing and looked at the tree. Stray beams of late afternoon light illuminated its bark so that it glowed with an eerie luminescence. There was something enthralling about it—its age, its shape, its potential—and I found myself mesmerised as though caught in some enchantment. Story threads seemed entwined like gossamer in its very branches, and I let my mind pursue the delicate skeins—of tragic lovers, lovelorn men and ruined women, lost children…
The Cottage on Winter Moss is an emotive and compelling dual timeline story, told in the present from Dee’s first person point of view. The local family’s tragic past has an omniscient narrator, and the reader gets to know how history and events resonate in the present. The contemporary and historical aspects are woven together beautifully, each enhancing the other, and include many emotions including the overriding desire for power, jealousy, forgiveness and love. I loved the idea of the Trysting Tree and its role in the story.
The Cottage on Winter Moss is my first book by this author and I enjoyed it very much. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, with a hint of the supernatural, evoking vivid imagery of the characters, and particularly the setting with the wild elements of fog, mists, driving rain and pounding seas. Recommended for those who enjoy well written fiction with a literary twist and dual timelines.
Burned-out author Dee needs fresh inspiration. Impetuously, she abandons London and her good-for-nothing boyfriend to go wherever her literary quest takes her. Journey’s end is a remote village on the shores of a wild estuary, overshadowed by a ruined pele tower. She rents Winter Cottage and waits for a story to emerge.
The bleak beauty of the whispering dunes, the jacquard of colour and texture of the marsh and a romantic tree in a secluded glade—The Trysting Tree—all seduce Dee. Nevertheless, the secretive behaviour of a handsome neighbour, lights across the marsh, a spurious squire and a bizarre, moonlit encounter all suggest there is something odd afoot.
Local gossip and crumbling graveyard inscriptions give Dee the opening she needs. She begins to weave hints about the tragic history of a local family, feuding brothers and a fatal fire into a sweeping historical saga. Her characters clamour for a voice as the tale spools effortlessly onto the page—demanding to be told. Dee feels more like its instrument than its instigator.
As she becomes enmeshed in the local community, Dee is startled to find her fiction unnervingly confirmed by fact, her history still resonating in the present-day.
Is she being guided by echoes of the past?