A Summer At The Castle by Kate Lord Brown
Updated: Sep 11, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Baking, romance and thrills - what more could anyone ask for?' My Weekly Scandal, secrets and strawberries. A recipe for disaster... Every summer, Diana Hughes organises a famous baking competition at her beautiful castle in the south west of Ireland, to raise funds for its upkeep. But this year, amongst the bunting and scrumptious cakes, everything is turning out a little differently than planned!
First, her daughter Darcy arrives on the doorstep unexpectedly, after running away to the sunny hills of California with a broken heart a year ago. Then a mysterious stranger tries to sabotage the competition. Diana and Darcy soon find out that the past is quickly catching up with them - and it's about to turn their lives upside down!...
I have been saving this book to read over the summer and I'm so glad I did. It was the perfect cosy summer read sat outside in the sun with a cold drink and emerging myself in the idyllic Irish setting. The atmospheric castle was a great backdrop for the novel combined with the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant.
Darcy returns home to help her mother who has fallen and injured herself. Every year Diana hosts a baking competition and with finances struggling to keep them afloat, she needs to make sure that this year the publicity from the filming of the show is fruitful. With the help of her daughter Darcy and another baker, Beatrice, Diana prays this will help keep the castle going. Unfortunately, Beatrice is not the sweet and innocent character Diana was tricked into believing and with the arrival of Beatrice a whole whirlwind of chaos and destruction follows.
In contrast to Beatrice, Darcy is the easy-going, girl next door character who although is camera shy, agrees to be filmed to help out the family business. Whilst she has known some of the staff since she was a child, Darcy finds her childhood crush is growing stronger and her heart beats faster every time she is near the hot-headed chef Conor.
This was the perfect romantic story, combined with hidden family secrets and the appreciation of food. I loved the recipes and food blogs that featured in the novel as well as the mystery surrounding Colleen. Many thanks to Kate Lord Brown for gifting me a copy of A Summer At The Castle, a truly comforting read.
I am thrilled to welcome Kate Lord Brown back to The BookCosy blog. A few years ago Kate wrote about how her childhood experiences in Devon influenced her novel The Beauty Chorus. Today Kate is sharing her experience on juggling writing and motherhood, with some useful advice to anyone in throws of trying to do so or for those budding writers out there who have yet to get started.
THE JUGGLING ACT By Kate Lord Brown Back in the early days of blogs when modems still dialled up with a screeching chorus, before social media really took off in a big way, I was at home with two babies and a burning desire to write. My blog was called 'The Pram in the Hall' at first - until an academic in America objected because her blog was called the Pram in the Hall. So I changed it to 'What Kate Did Next' tagline: if your juggling skills could give the Cirque du Soleil a run for its money, this is the blog for you. I have always written - I was the kind of child who kept diaries and wrote plays for friends to act out, and love letters for them to send to their boyfriends. I grew up in a really magical, remote part of Devon and you had to find ways to entertain yourself as a child - we had a freedom I can't imagine my own children having, going off on bikes and ponies for the day exploring. The days were long and full of time for imagining.
That changes when you have a family of your own. By the time my babies arrived I had been writing with groups in London and Valencia, and I really missed the company of other writers, which is where the blog came in, as a kind of virtual writers' group. (There are posts and writing tips going back years at www.katelordbrown.com). If you are just starting out, I'd encourage you above all to find your tribe - seek out other writers on social media, find local groups who meet in libraries and bookshops. It's unlikely that your nearest and dearest will understand your writing life, so find people who support you through the good and bad times. At home with small children and a husband who worked overseas constantly, my first novels were written in tiny chunks of time stolen when they were napping and sleeping, then at nursery and school. Writing is an addiction, a compulsion. I'd scrawl notes on the back of receipts in eyeliner, and toss them down to the basement where I wrote, to scoop them up that night and decipher whatever that burning idea was for plot or character. I envied writers who were able to go off to hotels or retreats, with offices and assistants - but I learnt to write piece by piece and so can you. As much as unbroken days of sacrosanct writing time sounds wonderful, I liked Stephen King's advice to stick your desk in the corner of the family room and just get on with it - art is a support for life not the other way around. For me, at least, family comes first. But writing was also an escape - it was 'me' time, to think and dream big, to imagine things beyond Cbeebies and fish fingers for tea. Motherhood is exhausting and marvellous, relentless and the greatest joy I've ever known. I made - I am still making - every rookie mistake known to writers, and this is ten years in from seeing my first novel published. That is how you learn, and grow. Everyone makes mistakes, both in the business and creative side of writing, but nothing is wasted. Writing has always been there, and it will be there when your children grow up and leave home. If you dream of writing, keep that still small flame alive. Hold on to 'you' in the maelstrom of parenthood. Sometimes juggling work and family life seems to leave little space to create, but it can be done. Connoly said the pram in the hall was the enemy of creativity but now, as my children leave for university, I still maintain it is just somewhere strong to rest your notebook. I asked Anne Tyler once how she managed the juggling act of writing and family, and she told me to hang on by my fingertips - and that is what I have done.
Kate's latest book A Summer At The Castle is out now.
Kate grew up in a wild and beautiful part of Devon, and was first published while at school. After reading Philosophy at Durham University, and Art History at the Courtauld Institute, she worked as an international art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies, and she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2000 Kate and her husband left their careers and home in London behind to follow the dreams of a lifetime – they travelled round the world and relocated to Valencia, Spain; there he learnt to fly, retraining as a pilot and Kate began to write full time. Kate was a finalist in ITV's The People's Author competition, and won the regional BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition. She has a MA in Creative Writing, and ‘The Perfume Garden’, her US debut, was inspired by the years she lived in Spain. It was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year by the RNA and last year Kate was awarded a Highly Commended in their Elizabeth Goudge Trophy contest. Kate gained a MA in creative writing from the Manchester Writing School. Her novels have been translated into many languages, and have been top ten bestsellers in the US/Canada, UK, Germany, Norway and Spain. Kate wrote the first book club column in the Middle East for two years, and has published journalism for the Daily Telegraph, Good Housekeeping and Conde Nast Traveller on everything from writing and expat life, to Arab horses, perfume and Japanese festivals. After many years living overseas, Kate has recently returned to the south-west where she lives on Exmoor with her family and a menagerie of animals rescued in the Middle East.
Find out more at www.katelordbrown.com
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It has been an absolute pleasure to read and review A Summer At The Castle as well as hosting this guest post. Many thanks, once again, to Kate Lord Brown.