Today I’m thrilled to share my review for the delightful The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by the super talented Christie Barlow. Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a huge crime thriller reader, and there’s only a handful of authors who I’m happy to leave the “dark side” for and Christie Barlow’s one of them.
I got to read this highly entertaining book a few months back and I will say I think it’s Christie Barlow’s best book yet. To find out why you can read my review further down this post. The Cosy Canal Boat Dream will be published by Harper Impulse on the 22nd of August 2017 and I’ve included pre-order links further down the page.
But before I share my review with you all I have a fabulous Q & A with Christie Barlow.
Hi Christie, I’m so excited to have you on my blog so welcome to The Book Review Café. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thank you for having me Lorraine! Here’s a little intro! … I’m a 5ft 5in brunette born in the county of Cheshire and now at the ripe old age of 44, I lead nothing but a glamorous lifestyle: ironing, mucking out chickens and chasing after my mad cocker spaniel. I’m a mum to four, wife to one and my writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Upon hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the sports car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born. I self-published my first book, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother which became the talk of the town and hit the charts. Within 3 months I’d landed myself an agent, a book deal with Bookouture and recently signed to HarperCollins imprint HarperImpulse.
I’ve written six books to date, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. I’m currently working on book 7 to be published by HarperImpulse early 2018.
For those readers who haven’t heard of you and your book THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM can you provide us with an introduction?
The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is a roller-coaster of emotions, it begins with a powerful prologue that has already had numerous book bloggers and readers reaching for the tissues.
Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…
For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…
Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…
Where did the idea for THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM come from?
My new book ‘The Cosy Canal Boat Dream’ is a pretty special one as it will be my first published novel with Harper Impulse! How exciting! Well, and slightly nerve-wracking! That’s normal though, right? For this book, my inspiration was right under my nose – believe it or not! When I say under my nose, I also mean under Woody’s (my cocker-spaniel) nose! Every day prior to the book idea, my sidekick and I would go on a walk around Barton marina which has this beautiful, old picture house and a rather mouth-watering deli. And, if that wasn’t enough, the marina is even a home to multiple craft shops. It didn’t take me long to link Barton marina with the deli and old picture house in a storyline capacity. After all, with such beautiful views, stunning buildings, and wonderful smelling food to drool over; I would be doing the marina a disservice by NOT using it as my inspiration for my new book.
Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?
I have a life size cut-out of Gary Barlow that keeps me company in my writing room and often I will run plot ideas past him!
What do your family think of your writing?
My family are so proud, they think it’s an amazing job to have and I have to agree with them!
My favourite character in THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM is of course Nell Andrews, who was your favourite character to write about?
I LOVED every character in this book, for five months they all became my new best friends but I too admire the wonderful Nell Andrews. Clearly I don’t want to give any parts of the storyline away, but, I can mention what inspired me to shape Nell’s character. You may have seen multiple posts online about women empowerment, yes? When I came to create Nell’s personality, I took my inspiration from women icons such as ‘Jane Eyre,’ the suffragette movement, and the inspirational women who are in my life. When you read the book, you’ll find out more about Nell, her backstory, and what shaped her as a person. Just like my other characters from my previous novels, I aim to build their lives with my own personal experiences in mind, and I feel that it’s important to be able to relate to who I am writing about.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?
The past three years have been truly amazing in the land of books and that is down to all the lovely readers, bloggers, friends and family. Just by choosing my book to read makes my day, but then when they send me all the kind words, tweets and messages I really have to pinch myself. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love, so thank you!
On the other side, what would say is the most challenging part of writing?
Writing fiction can certainly be a lonely job and ninety-five percent of that time is spent on my own, tapping at the computer with only my mad cocker spaniel for company, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Which of the books you have written is your favourite?
I thought about this for a moment and realised each book I’ve written has shaped the writer I am today. I love each book and every character for many different reasons.
What’s been your biggest pinch me moment to date?
The first pinch me moment was when I was travelling on a train to Birmingham. I was sat in the carriage watching the scenery whiz by when the woman sitting opposite me took out a book from her bag to read. It was my book, Kitty’s Countryside Dream! The second moment was when the publishing editor Charlotte Ledger from Harper Collins knew of my wonderful books and offered me a contract, oh and not forgetting my first book knocked David Walliams off the top spot! And I got to have a chat with him recently about that very moment at the Harper Collins 200th birthday party celebrations. Every day I pinch myself, I really do have the best job in the world.
Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?
I’m just writing my second book for Harper which is due for release early 2018, and all I can divulge at this stage is it begins in New York, and ends in England. There are secrets, hideaways and romance, but always a happy ending!
Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA and Australia.
Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with poverish people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.
She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author
My review of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream
If you are looking for a book to read that’s not your usual run of the mill Rom Com then look no further, than The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, it’s a highly entertaining read, but it also has so much more to offer, it certainly made for an emotional read so a word of warning have the tissues at the ready! I’m going to say this is definitely Christie Barlow’s best book yet and made for a highly entertaining and emotional read.
Nell Andrew’s appears to have the perfect life she’s living the dream on a boat with the love of her life Ollie, but when he is killed in an accident all Nell’s hopes and dreams for the future are left in tatters. As she struggles to cope with her grief life takes an unexpected turn when an Irishman and a disused cinema come into her life. What follows is a heartwarming tale filled with bittersweet moments. My emotions were all over the place whilst reading this novel, there are so many sensitive and tear jerking scenes in this novel one minute I would find myself laughing uncontrollably and the next minute I would find myself sobbing into a tissue as I reached yet another poignant scene in this charming tale.
What I adore about Christie Barlow’s writing is that she has a knack of bringing her characters to life, friendship and humour play a big part in this novel and you can’t help but become attached to Nell, best friend Bea and the adorable Jacob who despite only being five has a big personality. The author’s characters are so credible and endearing, as usual I was left feeling bereft when I reached the last page of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, as I’ve said in previous reviews for Christie Barlow’s books I always feel I’m saying “goodbye” to new found friends.
Christie Barlow is able to turn a Rom Com into something much more, yes there’s laughs aplenty, but she also draws on real life issues and writes about them with sensitivity, you can’t help but become involved in each characters story. In my opinion Christie Barlow is one of the best writers in this genre her books are like a breath of fresh and yes they make me emotional, but ultimately they make for a heartwarming and “feel good” read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a Rom Com with that extra special something.
Print Length: 272 pages
A huge thank you to Christie Barlow for my ARC and for taking the time to answer my questions for the author interview.