A Taste of Home by SJV
It is always a pleasure to be asked to write a few words about a new release and this time around it feels particularly poignant. A Taste of Home is my twelfth book (how has that happened?) and the bulk of the inspiration behind it has been the result of being cut off from all those sources of exploration and adventure that are usually responsible for firing the imagination and sparking the lightbulb moment.
At the beginning of the book, Fliss Brown suffers a bereavement and as a result finds herself moving to a farm on the outskirts of wonderful Wynbridge and getting to know her grandfather, Bill, a man who she never before knew existed. Neither was Fliss aware that her passion for fruit farming had been long embedded in her genes, and that was where my lockdown reminiscences played their part in helping me to tell her story.
My maternal grandparents spent their married life living in a large council house in a village on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border. They raised four children there and the property came with a huge parcel of land, and along with that, my grandad also rented further acres from both the council and friends.
When he wasn’t working six-until-two and two-until-ten shifts in a local factory, he was outside, working the land, or in one of the many sheds, tinkering with tractors, machinery and ancient tools that he picked up at car boot sales. I only have to close my eyes to walk around those dusty big barns and smaller ramshackle spaces as if I were there mere moments ago, rather than decades, my nose filled with the combined scents of earth, oil and warm wood.
Grandad grew fruit, vegetables and flowers for the family (including sweet peas to decorate the church the day I was married), as well as strawberries, potatoes and other soft fruit for commercial sale. My childhood school holidays and many weekends were spent picking strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, red and blackcurrants and spuds, which were then taken and sold to the highest bidder via an auction house a village or so along.
I’ll be the first to admit that I dreaded blackberry season. Scratches from the thorns were impossible to avoid, and the fruit was delicate, which required a gentle touch and, consequently, no gloves, which in turn resulted in purple stained fingers. Picking and bagging potatoes on damp autumn days wasn’t all that much fun either. If it had rained, the soil stuck fast to my boots, making them heavy and progress slow going.
Strawberry picking was definitely the best of the bunch, not that I always appreciated it. The fields were huge, the rows stretching forever and it was back-breaking. Bending over for hours under the searing sun was hard work, but it did have its compensations. For a start, there were all those warm and succulent fruits to pluck and devour when no one was watching. They tasted divine, but even better than treating the taste buds were the skylarks.
They nested in the rows, and the moment I got too close, the birds would shoot up, soar above and then hover, their sweet melodious song filling the air in the hope of distracting me from the precious and vulnerable offspring below. The sudden disturbance was a heart stopping moment, especially if I didn’t know the nest was there, but the reward was that wonderful song and the sight of a cleverly camouflaged nest filled with the next generation.
Sometimes the birds had just hatched and were puny-looking specimens; other times they were feathered, almost ready to fledge, and eyed me beadily. Within seconds of plucking the fruit and moving on, the parent would be back and calm once again restored, but I would think about them all day. Pure magic.
It will no doubt amuse my mum when she reads this because she would be the first to tell you how I used to moan about another day out in the fields and how I would much rather have stayed in the shed reading a book. It’s ironic to think that those days were actually halcyon and providing the treasured memories that would one day give me the inspiration to write my own. My darling grandad died many years ago and my dear nanna passed last year, but their influence and the wonderful childhood they gave me will live on in my memory and in the pages of my books for ever.
‘An absolute joy’ HEAT
‘Heidi’s known for her feel-good factor and this story is a delight’ NEW!
‘A charming, summery read’ THE PEOPLE’S FRIEND
Join Krisi, Bird & Blend co-founder, book lover & Chief Tea Mixologist for a cuppa and a chat with Heidi Swain, and Eleanor Ray, author of Everything is Beautiful.
Sign up for the event before the 2nd May to receive a FREE tea to taste from the award-winning Bird & Blend Tea Co. Tickets cost £2 and all proceeds (minus VAT) go straight to Stonebridge City Farm, a much loved city farm and visitor centre that is run by volunteers and gives visitors a little slice of the countryside in the heart of the city.
Fliss Brown has grown up living with her mother on the Rossi family’s Italian fruit farm. But when her mother dies, Fliss finds out she has a family of her own, and heads back to England with Nonna Rossi’s recipe for cherry and almond tart and a piece of advice: connect with your family before it is too late…
Fliss discovers that her estranged grandfather owns a fruit farm himself, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, and she arrives to find a farm that has fallen into disrepair. Using her knowledge gleaned from working on the Rossi farm and her desire to find out more about her past, Fliss rolls her sleeves up and gets stuck in. But what will she discover, and can she resurrect the farm’s glory days and find a taste of home…?
‘Evocative and deliciously uplifting ‘ ANNETTE HANNAH, author of Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Cafe
Pam, for Lancashire Evening Post says ‘Family always comes first in Swain’s inspirational books and A Taste of Home brims with the real-life issues, evocative landscapes, heartfelt emotions and all the love, laughter and tears that we have come to expect from this accomplished author’ Read her full review here.
‘A Taste of Home is an outstanding novel with a superb story line, incredible setting and great characters. I could not put the book down!’ Claire *****
‘A gorgeous, romantic book, that will whisk you away to sunnier happier times’ Karen ****
‘As with all Heidi’s books, A Taste of Home is feel-good, cosy and very enjoyable – it’s like a hug in a book! Although be warned, the descriptions of the juicy strawberries and wonderful Italian cooking will certainly tantalise your taste buds!’ Kirsty, read her full review here.
‘I adored this story!’ Victoria *****
‘Such a gorgeous and heartwarming read’ Netgalley Reviewer *****
‘A breath of fresh air’ Jess *****
‘Can’t recommend this book highly enough’ Natalie *****
‘The perfect escape from real life’ Kelly *****
‘I absolutely loved this book’ Gemma *****
‘I can not recommend enough’ Amanda *****
‘Heidi Swains’ wonderfully descriptive writing whisked me away to the gorgeous Fenview farm and charming town of Wynbridge’ Rebecca *****
‘Awesome characters, a gorgeous romantic hero and brilliant setting’ Kirsty *****
‘Completely absorbing’ Lucy *****
‘A Taste of Home is about the importance of keeping your family close and finding love at difficult times. I give it a massive 5*/5′ Kirsty *****
‘An intriguing journey filled with hope’ Jeanie *****
‘A delightful book’ Em ****
‘Another glorious book from the Queen of feel good and friendly community settings!’ Susanne *****
‘Filled with delicious descriptions of the area that made me want to go for a long stomp around the Fenlands, stuffing robustly red strawberries in my mouth as I went’ Abi *****
‘The characters are beautifully written’ Netgalley Reviewer ****
‘Absolutely superb’ Jennifer *****
‘Great story and characters… a lovely community feel’ Karen *****
‘Fabulous! Full of family, love and friendship’ Netgalley Reviewer *****
‘A lovely ‘coming home’ feel, with a delightful setting’ Roberta ****
‘If you enjoy light hearted, easy reading with likeable characters and a couple of twists in the tale then A Taste of Home ticks all those boxes’ Kelly *****
‘A hug of a book!’ Ruth *****
‘A joy to read, an absolute feel good book and and one that I highly recommend’ Claire *****
‘Totally amazing, it draws you in from the beginning’ Hayley *****
‘A real feel good read that leaves you smiling’ Danielle *****
‘A wonderful story about love’ Amanda *****
‘A comforting uplifting storyline with familiarity and a community spirit’ Rea *****
‘A really great, feel good story’ Claire *****
‘A wonderful, heart warming read’ Susanne *****
‘This will not disappoint’ Christine *****
‘I have loved and enjoyed all Heidi’s books, but this is definitely my favourite’ Maple *****
‘Oh what a treat to be back in Wynbridge in the summertime! I defy anyone to read this and not find themselves looking at fruit farms in a whole new light every time they go past one!’ Catriona, read her review here.
‘A Taste of Home is full of heart and emotion. It will make you laugh; make you cry and will leave you feeling content. I highly recommend, it will make the perfect summer read!’ Jenn, read her blog tour review here.
‘This is a truly beautiful book that I would highly recommended to you all. I just loved everything in this book, the story, location and characters were all fabulous’ Jessica, read her blog tour review here.
‘A Taste of Home will enfold you in a loving community that’s set in a perfect landscape with characters you’ll come to love and want to be friends with. This is one of the most uplifting stories I’ve read in a while’ Sharon, read her blog tour review here.
‘Such a delightful story focusing on the value of family, and the sense of community spirit. Community spirit is a beautiful theme that flows through all of Heidi Swain’s books. The connection to nature is also always a strong theme for Heidi and one that works perfectly with that sense of community that will leave you feeling the warmth and love in these books’ Jo, read her blog tour review here.
‘Beautifully written from the start, there is a cosiness as life bumbles along and sparks of romance start to ignite. A Taste of Home has a feel-good atmosphere, that wraps around the challenges of life, a bit like a hug’ Lou, read her blog tour review here.
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