Kate Glanville returns with a warm and escapist read of love and old secrets, set in a beautiful French farmhouse in the Dordogne. Perfect for fans of Rosanna Ley.
A warm, inviting story of love and family secrets set in the beautiful French countryside.
Twenty-five years ago, Martha Morgan lost everything. Once a member of a prestigious band, she now lives in solitude in the heart of the Dordogne, surrounded by an ancient cherry orchard.
Attempting to piece her life back together, Martha decides to rent her idyllic French farmhouse Le Couvent des Cerises to holidaymakers for the summer, hiring the mysterious Ben to help reconstruct the dishevelled B&B.
But when a vicious storm makes its way across the village, tensions begin to rise. Martha, Ben and the guests are forced to pull together and they’re about to find out that they have more in common than they realise – but it might mean jeopardising the secret of Martha’s past . . .
- Publisher: Headline Accent
- Format: Ebook, Audio and Paperback (27 May 2021)
- 336 pages
Congratulations and happy publication day to Kate Glanville for The Cherry Tree Summer and my thanks to Bea of Headline for offering an extract and review copy. I wasn’t able to fit in a review at this time sadly however I am delighted to share an extract to help celebrate publication day.
The cold air stung her cheeks as she stepped out onto the doorstep. Inside, someone had started to sing ‘White Christmas’. The singing faded as the black front door closed behind her, leaving only the berry wreath swinging back and forth in one last wave goodbye.
‘Careful, darling.’ Her husband turned as he bumped the empty pushchair down the steps. ‘It’s icy.’
‘We’ll be fine.’ She held on to the wrought-iron railing with one hand, clutching the bundled-up baby in the other as she carefully descended the steps. Her long fur coat skimmed her ankles and she worried that she might catch her high heels on the hem. From the pavement her husband watched. She saw a frown pass across his handsome face before he spoke.
‘It was only meant to be a quiet drinks party with my parents’ friends. You really didn’t need to perform.’
She paused, steadying herself before the next step. ‘They asked me to sing. It would have been rude to say no.’
‘But, darling, I know how it stirs up all those memories. I don’t want you to be upset.’
‘I didn’t mind, it was fun.’ At the bottom of the steps she crouched to strap the baby into the pushchair. ‘There you go, my gorgeous boy. Not long and you’ll be home tucked up in bed ready for Santa to bring you your first stocking.’
Her husband pulled on his leather gloves. ‘And you know my father doesn’t like it when his Steinway is used for anything other than Chopin.’
She looked up and forced a smile. ‘They enjoyed it though, didn’t they? The woman in the twin-set was dancing.’
‘But you didn’t have to do your entire back catalogue; they were hardly your typical kind of fans.’
‘They seemed to know all the words.’ The plastic buckle of the pushchair slipped between her fingers. ‘Sorry, cariad.’ The baby boy wriggled, frustrated inside his quilted snowsuit as the buckle slipped again. She kissed his nose. The baby laughed. She whispered in his ear. ‘You liked my singing, didn’t you, sweetie? You always do. Mummy’s biggest fan.’ She kissed him again.
At last the buckle snapped into place and with one last look at her son she stood up. She felt dizzy, slightly sick after too much champagne. The words of the final song reeled around her head.
I am dancing on the moon
‘I’ll take him now, darling.’ Her husband touched her cheek with one gloved finger, pushing back a lock of her long auburn hair. ‘You look exhausted. We should have left earlier.’
‘I’ll be fine with him,’ she protested, but his hands were on the handles of the pushchair.
‘Come on, little man, let’s get going.’
‘Wait a second.’ But he was already ahead of her, striding down the empty street, pushchair wheels clattering over the paving slabs, his overcoat swinging in time to the tune in her head.
In my sleep I feel you kiss me
She murmured the lyrics as she set off to catch up; her new Manolo Blahniks made it hard to walk fast enough.
And your lips whisper a love poem
Her breath came out in little puffs of smoke that reminded her of the illicit cigarette she’d enjoyed on the balcony with the wife of a businessman.
Then I wake and find you’re with me
Frost glittered on the railings, and the cobbles in the gutter glistened in the streetlight.
We ask the band to play our tune
A thin mist swirled ahead of her, thicker at the end of the street. Her husband and the pushchair were shrouded in the distance.
We are moving in the starlight
Across the street she heard a woman shriek with laughter as a small group spilled out of the entrance of a pub.
And I am dancing on the moon
Car headlights were coming out of the mist, a yellow taxi sign emerging from the fog. The lights cast a glow on the woman and her two male companions.
‘Martha?’ the woman shouted from the opposite pavement. She was wearing a tight red sequined dress and carrying an enormous handbag. ‘Is it really you?’
In the distance her husband called to her. ‘Darling, just ignore them. We need to get home.’
‘Martha Morgan. One of our own.’ The man had a Welsh accent; he started to sing.
Calon lân yn llawn daion.
Martha glanced ahead; her husband was waving his hand, beckoning her to hurry up.
Tecach yw na’r lili dlo
The man was still singing. Martha joined in with the next line of the song.
The taxi passed and the group stumbled across the road towards her.
‘I can’t be doing with those funny foreign lyrics,’ the second man said.
‘You English moron; you’re talking about our language,’ the Welsh man turned his back on his companion and taking Martha’s hand in his he shook it vigorously. ‘The whole world wanted to speak Welsh when your band sang that at Glastonbury. You were bloody fantastic.’
‘Thank you, but I must go,’ Martha said. ‘My husband and my baby are waiting.’
‘I was such a fan.’ The woman’s words slurred a little as she spoke. She held out her arms. ‘I love you, Martha Morgan, you’re a goddess.’
Martha laughed and let the woman hug her; the woman smelled of beer and smoke and Opium perfume. It reminded Martha of the dressing rooms she and Cat had shared.
‘And I love “Moondancing”,’ the woman said. ‘I had my first snog to that song.’ She began to sing the lyrics that the middle-aged businessmen and their wives had just been enjoying in the drawing room.
In my sleep I feel you kiss me and your lips whisper a love poem
Martha sang too as the woman began to lead her in a waltz. After two verses they fell apart with laughter. Martha teetered backwards on her heels. The Englishman put his arm around Martha’s shoulder.
‘I always liked that one about the waitress in the cocktail bar.’
‘That was The Human League, you pillock,’ said the Welsh man. ‘Martha was in On The Waterfront.’
Martha was still laughing. ‘I’m amazed you remember, it’s years since we split up.’
‘Martha!’ the voice came muffled through the fog.
Martha stopped laughing and peered up the street. Her husband was a ghostly figure silhouetted under the streetlight. She could hear the baby crying. ‘I must go.’
‘Can I have your autograph?’ The woman was fishing around in her handbag, pulling out the contents, dropping a can of hairspray and a bunch of mistletoe onto the pavement. ‘I know I’ve got a pen in here somewhere.’
‘I’m sorry, I really have to go,’ Martha detached herself from the man’s arm. Martha began to sway; she wished she hadn’t had the last glass of champagne.
‘This’ll have to do,’ the woman produced the stump of a black eyeliner and a dog-eared Christmas card. ‘Can you sign here?’
Martha hastily scrawled her name.
‘Can I give you a peck on the cheek?’ the second man had retrieved the plastic mistletoe from the pavement and held it up in front of Martha.
‘I have to go,’ Martha repeated. She couldn’t see her husband or the pushchair any more.
‘Just a quick kiss from a fan.’
‘No!’ Martha set off as quickly as her shoes would allow. Another car was coming down the road. The headlights were very bright, shining in her eyes as she searched for her husband in the distance.
‘I bet those girls from The Human League would let me give them a kiss!’ the man called after her.
Martha squinted against the car’s headlights, hoping her husband had waited for her. There was no one under the streetlight now, no sign of anyone ahead. She couldn’t hear the baby crying any more, or anyone calling out her name. He would be angry when they got home.
She started to run. Her foot slipped on something leaking from a black rubbish bag that had frozen to the cobbles, pain shot through her ankle. She stumbled into the road and cried out. Screeching brakes drowned out the sound. Headlights swung towards her. The car was spinning in front of her, the lights going round; an image in her mind of a fairground ride long ago, and then she was spinning, flying through the icy air. She heard a scream and the Welsh man cried out My God, it’s hit her!
With the cold, hard smack of the pavement, she thought of her baby’s beautiful face. Then she didn’t think of anything at all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Glanville was born in West Africa to Irish parents. She now lives with her three children in rural West Wales. For many years she has practised as a successful ceramic artist supplying tiles and tableware to many leading shops and galleries around the world. From childhood she has been passionate about writing stories.