Are you sitting comfortably? With The Natural Blanket Company

Thank you so much to the beautiful Natural Blanket Company for being brave enough to be our first ever sponsors for this new series. With their ridiculously soft British blankets this company seemed the perfect fit. They share my deep love for the British countryside and “the wild places found on our coastline”. Couple that with pure wool designed, sourced and made in the British Isles this makes us very comfortable indeed.

A whole shiny new blog series reviewing three books every month (a new release, a classic and a wild card). With an Instagram Live two weeks later that you can then join with any questions or thoughts.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love books. They are my comfort, my companions and my escape into worlds of adventure, of romance, of beautiful places and extraordinary knowledge. I have been considering a section on book recommendations since I first started this website a couple of years ago and I finally plucked up the courage to ask a far more well read and very extremely literary clever lady called Rebecca Fletcher to help me realise this dream.

Rebecca F is famous for her super popular blog “Margot Tries The Good Life” and now gets sent a gazillion new books every second to read and review, here is a teeny tiny bio to show exactly how brilliant she is:

Rebecca Fletcher is a freelance writer and literary interviewer based in Hampshire.  She was first commissioned to pen a column for Hampshire Life, Margot Tries the Good Life, about the ups and downs of country life six years ago and hasn’t stopped writing since.  Her interviews and writing have featured in a wide range of publications including Hampshire Life, Country Living UK, County and Town House and Period Living and she has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Solent.  Rebecca regularly chairs author interviews and panel events and is resident host at The Yard, indulging her love of books and getting to the nitty gritty of what inspires writers to pick up their pens.
@margotgoodlife Instagram and Twitter

You see? Brilliant! I love books but rely upon friends for recommendations and loans. My initial idea was to create a blog on “Books that you should have on your bookshelf” so Rebecca and I are hoping to create an amalgamation of brand new books that friends might say “oh you HAVE to read that” along with older classics that friends would feign shock “You mean you haven’t read…?? I shall lend it to you immediately” and a wild card every month – non fiction but varying categories.

We are also going to take part in an Instagram Live two weeks after publishing each blog to talk about the books (well – it will mainly be Rebecca F talking, I will add startlingly incisive comments such as “I liked it, it was nice”). We would adore for you to read one or all of the books and then send in any questions for us (Rebecca F) to answer and discuss and then join us on the Live. We are also hoping to invite some of the authors to join us on the Live (if I can work out how to do this) and you can then ask the author some searingingly intensive questions “do you like writing?” “How many words is your book”?

Here are our picks for this month. We are kicking off with a gothic flavoured theme – it is still winter after all and the wind is currently howling at the fields and battering our houses with dark intentions. It seems appropriate to snuggle into mysterious and beautiful ruined stately piles set in mistily clad rolling countryside with romantic heroines and dauntingly handsome maybe hero maybe villain with a spice of the supernatural. We hope you enjoy these recommendations and look forward to your questions.

The Key in the Lock – Beth Underdown

Published by Viking, January 2022

“I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace.”

For Ivy Boscawen, the memories of the fire at the Great House at Polneath and the terrible events which followed, haunt her still. Reeling from the loss of her son Tim in the Great War, the death of another boy decades earlier seeps into her thoughts. Deceit, desire and betrayal – can Ivy ever lay to rest the ghosts of the past if she doesn’t uncover the truth behind the locked door?

The Key in the Lock is a murky brooding tale set in Cornwall which bears all the intrigue and atmosphere of the perfect gothic novel with beautifully drawn and beguiling characters. It’s a historical mystery which keeps you guessing – an unputdownable twisting snakes’ wedding of secrets and lies. A must read for fans of Daphne du Maurier, Sarah Waters or Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

First published, December 1817

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Apart from it having arguably one of Austen’s best lines, Northanger Abbey is a fantastic coming of age story featuring seventeen-year-old heroine Catherine Moorland who leaves behind a sheltered rural life to spend a few weeks with a friend in rather more sophisticated and fashionable Bath. There she is introduced to the Tilneys who are a good deal more worldly wise, and is invited to their family home, Northanger Abbey. Locked rooms, crumbling castles and more than a little furtive imagination, Catherine, an avid fan of a gothic thriller, begins to believe all is not what it seems. Could there be a terrible secret hidden behind the Abbey’s elegant veneer? A fantastic parody of gothic romance novels, Northanger Abbey is the story of how young Catherine discovers the folly of confusing life with art and learns to find her feet. It’s also said to have been Jane’s first proper novel.

The Little Library Cookbook – Kate Young

Published by Head of Zeus, 2017

“There are few better smells to wake up to than cinnamon rolls and coffee. The butter, the cinnamon, the sweet, enriched dough all work together in some sort of holy trinity of breakfast scents.”

Award-winning Kate Young is one of those food writers who transports you to another time and place with her prose – something very welcome when the closest you’re going to get to any kind of luxury spa experience is a rush of steam to the face when draining the children’s pasta. The Little Library Cookbook is a delicious collection of literary feasts and fictional food memories, bringing the magic and wonder of meals enjoyed by some of literature’s best loved characters. From the tantalising Turkish Delight Edmund trades Narnia’s secrets for to the recipe for New Year’s Day Turkey Curry of Bridget Jones’ Diary complete with novelty Christmas jumper, Kate’s culinary imaginings carry the reader away on a spot of armchair adventuring that has you sipping mint juleps with Gatsby in no time at all. Indeed, what could be more gothic than the dripping buttery crumpets of afternoon tea at Manderlay brought in by Mrs Danvers herself?

To see more of Rebecca F’s work please head to her Instagram

And her linktree:

If you are Hampshire based do take a look at her upcoming interview at The Yard with Journalist, author, war correspondent and campaigner Alex Renton.

Thank you so much to The Natural Blanket Company. You have helped us sit super comfortably (particularly when I ran out of oil and was shivering next to the fire whilst trying to read!!!) Your blankets are a true joy.

Finest Collection Raspberry and Rose blanket


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

February 2, 2022 at 2:31 pm

So excited with this shiny new blog series! And I was just going to ask you for any other book recommendations Rebecca, as I thoroughly enjoyed the last one! I LOVE books too and always have. I am greatly looking forward to your “Lives” with discussion!

Rebecca Lovattreply
February 2, 2022 at 3:20 pm
– In reply to: Jennifer

Thank you so much gorgeous Jennifer!!!! I am so glad you loved it! It really was a fabulous book. “The key in the lock” is another page turner and the cookery book is just fabulous and such a wonderful idea and I probably don’t need to comment on Austen!!! 🤣🤣🤣 Thank you wonderful lady xxxxx

Sue Daviesreply
February 2, 2022 at 4:52 pm

Excellent idea, Mrs Lovatt! ‘Northanger Abbey’ is the only Austen I’ve not read but I shall now put that right. May I also suggest ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ by Elizabeth von Arnim might be worth throwing into the ring at some point?

Rebecca Lovattreply
February 2, 2022 at 5:20 pm
– In reply to: Sue Davies

Oh Mrs Davies!!!!! Thank you so incredibly much!! I love Northanger Abbey, it makes me laugh out loud although coming to it again I am seeing some sightly uncomfortable similarities with myself and Catherine!!!! Oh I hope you enjoy it! In your new role as super school heroine saves the day again stand in cook you definitely must get ‘The Little Library Cookbook’ – the children would adore some of the recipes…world book day coming up….😂😂😂 You are a total superstar for stepping into the kitchen!!!! I absolutely must read ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ – you are the third literary person to recommend this so I will hie me to Harts asap. Thank you so very very much. Rxxxxxx

Helen Armstrong-Flemmingreply
February 2, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Oh my word, I adore Jane Austen and The Key in the Lock sounds amazing! I need to read it now and I already have a huge reading pile!! You are a temptress Rebecca!!

Rebecca Lovattreply
February 2, 2022 at 6:05 pm
– In reply to: Helen Armstrong-Flemming

🤣🤣🤣I can only apologise my lovely!!!! It really is a fabulous book – you will totally love it and be even more cross with me when you get nothing done because you have to read it to the very end as soon as possible!!! 🤣🤣 Oh I am so glad you love JA too, this one in particular makes me laugh a lot! Thank you gorgeous lady xxxx

Deb Allenreply
February 2, 2022 at 5:53 pm

I love a gothic novel so can’t wait to start reading ! Jumping up and down with excitement at your new venture and awaiting the day you put pen to paper yourself in the form of a book and we can read your 1st novel. You always cheer me up even when everything seems to be going to hell in a hand cart Thank you 🙏🏻

Rebecca Lovattreply
February 2, 2022 at 6:03 pm
– In reply to: Deb Allen

Oh Debbie!! That is so very lovely of you!! Thank you so very much!!! I love that you love Gothic Novels as well – in that case you are going to LOVE The Key In The Lock – it is a proper cannot put down book but it eases you in really slowly, creeping into your conscious until you just have to read to the end!!!! Thank you for your very kind words Xxxx

Cynthia Cranereply
February 14, 2022 at 11:40 am

Oh my goodness! Books are my current BFFs, and were so long before this stifling pandemic that has been keeping us in our homes. I‘m always on the hunt for recommendations and these sound wonderful! My favorite reads are well written British historicals, fiction or romance, I don’t discriminate! Such as Katherine by Anya Seyton, and more recently (the book that would never end) Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. But for a much lighter read I’d love to suggest to readers, especially those with for a love for gardening and restoring an English cottage, any of British author Beverly Nichols’ wonderful books. His Allways trilogy is a particular favorite! I come across too few readers who are familiar with Nichols’ delightful stories and would love it if you and Rebecca would do something about that! Hint hint! Looking forward to Wednesday! 1pm ET here in my neck of the woods, east coast USA.

Rebecca Lovattreply
February 14, 2022 at 3:58 pm
– In reply to: Cynthia Crane

Oooh thank you so much!!!! I shall have a look- you are spot on, I am entirely unfamiliar with his books. How wonderful, thank you so very, very much!!! “See” you on Wednesday!!! 🤗🤗🤗🤗

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