The Hidden Cottage, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Sunday Times bestseller Erica James shows her faultless blend of humour and emotion in this moving tale of family love and sacrifice. Mia Channing appears to have an enviable life: a beautiful home, a happy marriage, a job she enjoys and three grown-up children to whom she's devoted.

But appearances can be deceptive...When the family gathers for her son's thirtieth birthday, he brings with him his latest girlfriend, who, to their surprise, has a nine-year-old daughter.

Then, before the birthday cake has even been cut, Mia's youngest daughter Daisy has seized the opportunity to drop a bombshell.

It's an evening that marks a turning point in all their lives, when old resentments and regrets surface and the carefully ordered world Mia has created begins to unravel.




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A village saga, starring middle-aged Mia, who has three likeable adult children and a somewhat obnoxious husband, Jeff. The wealthy Owen arrives in the village, drawn by memories of his childhood when he escaped from an abusive father to learn music from two sweet old ladies. <br/><br/>It's character-based, with a fairly light plot, at least for the first half of the book. I found it a bit slow-moving, and some of the people caricatured, but it was pleasant enough and made good bedtime reading. I had no problem remembering the fairly large cast: well-chosen names and characteristics helped me distinguish and remember them from day to day. I very much liked Owen, and also nine-year-old Madison. The viewpoint changes rather too often for my tastes, but it's handled well, on the whole, although I felt that some editing would have helped: there's rather a lot of introspection, and some generalisations that don't add to the story. <br/><br/>Then drama and tragedy strike in a way that felt somewhat unnecessary, pitchforking the family into recriminations, anger, grief, and some difficult decisions. Perhaps there was no other way to move the story forward - and it certainly made the last part more of a page-turner, although I didn't find my emotions much moved. Overall, it wasn't one of Erica James' best. Perhaps three-and-a-half stars would be fairer, but I tend to expect more from this author, who has produced some excellent and moving novels. <br/><br/>Still, it would make good holiday reading. The language is mostly clean, and there's nothing explicit.