Now and Then Friends: A Hartley-by-the-Sea novel by Kate Hewitt
About this book: (from the publisher) After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—including the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .
A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.
Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .
About the author: Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels of romance and women’s fiction, including the Emigrants Trilogy, set in Scotland and North America; the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in the Lake District; and Tales from Goswell, written as Katharine Swartz. Raised in the United States, she lives in England’s Lake District with her American-born husband and their five children.
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Women’s Fiction
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG
[Tweet “Another heartwarming winner from @KateHewitt1, #2 of Hartley-by-the-Sea”]
Reflection: About a year ago, I read Kate Hewitt’s Rainy Day Sisters, the inaugural installment of her Hartley-by-the-Sea series — and fell in love: with Hewitt’s charmingly imagined Hartley-by-the-Sea; with her equally charming, distinctly Cumbrian characters; and with the author’s knack for penning wholesome women’s fiction, a niche I wholeheartedly embrace.
So I was delighted when #2 of the series came my way. In Now and Then Friends, I easily fell back into the Cumbrian community and welcomed my introduction to a new cast of characters. As in Rainy Day Sisters, the story belongs to two women who are complete opposites in terms of personality, lifestyle, and upbringing — and who, nonetheless, possess a kernel of commonality at heart. The story, of course, follows them in their respective journeys as they strive (or not) to connect.
Kate Hewitt’s prose rings as clear and pure as the famed Cumbrian air she writes about, which results in graceful storytelling that makes for an effortless read. I easily swallowed entire chapters at a time. She keeps up a good pace and deftly propels the story forward as she alternates point-of-view characters between Rachel and Claire. For fans of women’s fiction, there’s plenty of material to chew as Hewitt explores the various facets of female relationships: mother-daughter, sister-sister, friend-friend — as well as a healthy dash of romance.
In my estimation, Rainy Day Sisters was a tough book to beat, and indeed, this one didn’t achieve quite the same emotional high point — probably because the conflict seemed a bit more drawn-out than it needed to be in the end, and the two romantic pairings didn’t contain the same sizzling chemistry as in the first.
If that sounds like I’m complaining, I’m really not. Now and Then Friends is simply a different story, one I liked very much and deem a worthy sequel to the first. Based on these first two installments, I have little doubt I’ll always be willing to submit myself to the Cumbrian delights of a Hartley-by-the-Sea novel, and I can hardly wait to find out what happens next.
Thanks to New American Library for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Giveaway! The publisher has generously offered a copy of Kate Hewitt’s Now and Then Friends to one of my readers. Will you be the lucky winner? (U.S. resident only, please. Contest ends 8/12/16). Enter here:
After words: Do you find the notion or small-town, village life attractive? Why or why not?