All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper

on January 15, 2021

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage (Dune Island #2)
Kristin Harper
2020, 326p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, being spoiled with cranberry ice cream and watching the tides change from the rooftop. Now, heartbroken from a recent breakup, Zoey can see her elderly aunt’s spark is fading, and decides to move to the island so they can care for each other.

When she arrives to find her cousin, Mark, sitting at the solid oak kitchen table, she knows why Aunt Ivy hasn’t been herself. Because Mark—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the cousins clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when the local carpenter who’s working on Ivy’s cottage takes her side. As he offers Zoey comfort, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper, and throws doubt on Mark’s claim…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. The discovery could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but can Zoey trust that the carpenter really has Ivy’s best interests at heart? And will dredging up an old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

I actually didn’t realise this was second in a series until after I finished it but I don’t think it matters – I think it’s only the location that is the same and this can be read as a stand alone.

Zoey recently lost her job and her relationship ended in a devastating way. She’s moved back to Dune Island and the big family home that she and her sister spent their summers in growing up, where her great-aunt Ivy lives alone now. Zoey’s priority is taking care of Ivy, helping her through her grief and making sure her greedy cousin Mark, who will inherit the property (although a stipulation means it cannot be sold) doesn’t force Ivy out before she’s truly ready to leave the home she’s lived in for decades. Zoey also takes charge of her teenage niece due to some family issues and she’s also looking for a new job so she has a lot on her plate.

There was a lot about this book I enjoyed. I love the setting, the descriptions of the grand old houses with stunning views and how the house had been in Zoey’s family for many years. Ivy, the current owner of the house, was incredibly generous with it – she had no children herself but loved having the children of her siblings and their children over, especially for summer holidays. Zoey and her sister Jessica grew up loving those summers and Zoey has very sentimental feelings about the house and a great love for her aunt Ivy. She’s never really gotten on with Mark, her spoiled cousin who is always being bailed out and babied by the older generation and as the one who will inherit, Mark seems to suddenly be making a lot of plans, like organising a kitchen renovation. It seems he wants everything done before he inherits it, so that his outlay will be minimal but then he can rent it out and enjoy the returns. Zoey is incensed at what she perceives to be Mark’s taking advantage of an older lady who is in a vulnerable state, if not outright bullying.

I loved the story of Ivy and her sister-in-law Sylvia, the glimpses into the past and the slight element of mystery that surrounded the family line. I also liked Zoey and her dedication to taking care of Ivy and making sure that she was able to live as she wanted to, rather than the way anyone else wanted. She also has a lot of dedication to her niece as well, who is going through quite a difficult time and has a lot of upheaval in her life. Zoey also meets Nick, a local contractor engaged to look at the kitchen renovation and at first, Zoey is highly suspicious of him, thinking he’s a friend of Mark’s. But the more time Nick spends around her, the more she realises she had it wrong and they become friends…and Zoey wonders if there might be the potential for something more.

However, I did find a lot of the conflict between Zoey and Nicholas, quite childish. Zoey flies off the handle regularly, even after knowing Nick she ends up overhearing something that makes her believe the worst in him and instead of asking him about it like a mature adult, she acts like a sulky child. It made it difficult to see why Nick would be interested in her, the amount of times she was stand-offish or outright hostile towards him. Also running through the story is a plot thread about who should inherit the house – it passes to the oldest living relative and cannot be sold or transferred out of the family, no matter what. There are hints that Mark might not have a claim to it and Zoey does occupy herself with looking for some evidence, but in a kind of half-hearted way. However the way in which this resolved felt quite unrealistic and involved a serious 180 in character for one person. It felt quite weak, in comparison to the rest of the story, which I felt was mostly quite strong. It was very neat but the biggest thing didn’t actually happen on page as such, but was glossed over, which I thought was disappointing.

Despite my feelings about that particular part of the story, I enjoyed this quite a bit and I’d read more of this series.


Book #7 of 2021

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