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The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness - Laura Kemp, Lowri Walton, Orion

Ceri Price is mourning the loss of her mother. Intent on carrying out her wishes of spreading her ashes in her childhood home of Dwynwen in Wales, Ceri only plans on staying a few nights, then returning to Crewe to carry on her job as head of a successful make up business. However when she is mistaken for the new barmaid, what was going to be just a few days turns into a week, and then two. As the magic of the village and the warmth and friendliness of the locals takes over Ceri finds herself falling for Dwynwen, and for one local in particular. Then the village is threatened with plans for a new housing estate and random acts of kindness occur in the village. Who is behind those acts and can the new housing estate be stopped?

 

There is a lovely, cosy feel to this novel, this arises I think from the small, close-knit village and it’s quirky inhabitants, creating a village I would love to visit. The cast of characters is small, the village depicted so that it was easy to envisage and this all helped towards that cosy feel.

 

Laura Kemp has created a whole host of characters, each one adding something to the story. Ceri grew on me. She came across at first as a little spoiled and shallow but as the story progresses the reader sees that she has been caught up in the whirlwind success of her business and going to Dwynwen opens her eyes as to what she really wants from life. Then there are the locals. Gwil and Gwen, landlord and landlady at the local pub, The Dragon, are the catalyst for Ceri’s life change. When she steps in as barmaid she helps to transform the pub, breathing in new life and the couple bring comedy to the storyline. So too does Mel, who quickly becomes friends with Ceri. Mel holds onto an incident in her past which is making it impossible for her to move forward. The story sees Mel and Ceri helping each other, often times without even realising it. Then there are Rhodri and Logan, both of whom are interested in Ceri for their own reasons.

 

I had figured out who was behind the mysterious acts of kindness from early on in the story but it was nice to read about each one and to wonder what the next act would be.

There’s a warmth to the writing that draws the reader in. At the beginning of the story there were times when it felt a little flat (there were lots of references to bums!) but this soon picked up. There were also a couple of times when the point of Rhodri’s shyness and interest in recycling and the environment seemed a little laboured but again not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story. There is a friendliness and fun feeling to the writing and that is reflected in the story.

 

A lovely way to spend a few hours, I’ll be interested to read more by Laura Kemp in the future.