The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley 4.5* #review @trishaashley

House of Hopes and Dreams
Amazon Link 

When Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave. 

Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…

Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.

They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?

When I received an ARC of this book I was delighted, not least because I’d loved Trisha Ashley’s previous book. When I started reading, the subject matter got me even more excited. With an Arts and Crafts house at its centre, and a stained glass artist with an obsessive interest in the history of female stained glass artists I was instantly smitten. With a personal passion for The Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, I  was in my element. I should point out that a working knowledge, or interest in stained glass or the Arts and Crafts movement is not essential to enjoy this book, it just added an extra element of interest for me.

As the basic plot of the book is outlined in the blurb and I don’t want to add detail which would definitely spoil the enjoyment of reading it for yourself. So I’ll stick to why I liked it.

The two main characters, Carey and Angel are instantly like-able and sympathetic, which makes it even easier to dislike their respective adversary’s, who manage to take on almost pantomime villain roles within the book. I found myself almost mentally hissing when they appeared and was constantly rooting for my ‘heroes’. In addition there is a supporting cast of secondary characters (and a misunderstood dog)  that are well drawn, rounded and feature throughout the book to give an added depth. It’s not just the characters that are well presented, Mossby House and its surrounding area is also well described and it is impossible not to fall in love with the house and want the restoration to succeed.

What adds another dimension to the book are the back stories that unfold as the book progresses. One relating to the original Elizabethan owner and the second to Jessie King, the creator of the Arts and Crafts windows in the more modern wing. Before the chapters looking at Angel’s contemporary story there are diary entries that gradually reveal themselves to be written by Jessie who had once lived at Mossby. The back stories reveal untold secrets that form an additional engaging narrative, especially when intertwined with the contemporary tale regarding Carey and Angel.

With this book in particular, Trisha Ashley has managed to combine a lot of  factual and historical information without getting bogged down, or losing sight of the contemporary story line. It is skillfully plotted and kept me interested every step of the way. It has a balance of light and shade, with many other themes outside of the house restoration that offers something for everyone. All this, combined with the characteristic warmth drew me in and had me settled in for what was a satisfying and feel-good read.

6 comments

  1. I don’t read chick lit, but I would like to say that Trisha Ashley is one of the nicest of the super-successful authors I’ve ‘met’ – when I did a feature about writers and astrology on my blog 3 years ago, she was enthusiastic and sent me lots of lovely stuff, as helpful as any new indie looking for a bit of promo.

    Others who are international best sellers and still take time to talk to their readers: John Boyne and Emily Barr 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, I have never read any of Ms. Ashley’s books, but this one touches many bases of points of interest: art, stained glass, characterization, a dog, and past stories. I will need to look into this writer. Thanks you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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