Book review: The Dandelion Years by Erica James

28 Mar

Song of the Skylark Birthday Tweet 2 (2)

Today is my stop on the blog tour to celebrate the release of Erica James’s latest novel. Song of the Skylark was published earlier this month and is a wonderful read that completely swept me up. But before I share my review of Erica’s latest gem, I’m going to share my review of Erica’s previous novel, The Dandelion Years too!

Song of the Skylark is Erica’s 20th novel so this blog tour not only celebrates her new book but all of her previous ones too. At each stop on the tour you can read two reviews. Please do check out the other stops and if you haven’t already, enjoy discovering Erica’s other lovely novels and please do leave a comment about your favourites in the box below!

dandelion years‘Someone had made a perfect job of creating a place in which to hide a notebook . . . there was no address, only a date: September 1943 . . .’

Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling cottage on the edge of a Suffolk village, it provided a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.

Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a hidden notebook – and realises someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.

I was drawn to The Dandelion Years initially by the lovely eye-catching cover and references to Bletchly Park. As a history fan with a particular love of books set in the 1930s and 1940s, the code breakers of World War Two have always held a fascination for me so I was intrigued to see how Erica would work them into a novel. Coupled with the fact that this is a book where the lead character is a book restorer, I had to know more and so I eagerly started reading.

This is a lovely duel narrative story of family, history and love and I found it a gently compelling read. Starting in the present we meet Saskia and her unconventional housemates. This is three men and a little lady grown up as Saskia lives with her dad and two grandfathers which is a set up that I’ve never come across before in a novel but made for a refreshingly different family group in the book. I loved the way Saskia’s protective family had her best interests very much at heart and this novel made me appreciate my own family too.

Saskia is given a book to restore and finds a manuscript hidden inside. Titled The Dandelion Years, the handwritten pages tell a tale of wartime love and Saskia is soon hooked. While I enjoyed the main story it was the chapters that took me back in time that I enjoyed most about The Dandelion Years and caught my imagination and curiosity. Erica James brought the past vividly to life for me and the historical element of the story certainly didn’t disappoint.

James sets a number of mysteries out for the reader and as the story progressed I enjoyed beginning to piece the picture together with Saskia but I still couldn’t predict what had happened to the Katsura that the historical element of the book focussed on. With romance, history and an intriguing mystery, this is a lovely novel about seizing the moment and moving forward despite heartbreak loss and uncertainty – highly recommended!

The Dandelion Years is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Erica and her writing at: http://ericajames.co.uk/

Please do stop back later today to read my review of Song of the Skylark!

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