Updated: Sep 15
About the book: Connected through time to her great-grandmother by a shared English countryside home, an American nurse tries to piece together her family's tangled history in this new historical novel from the acclaimed author of At Summer’s End.
England, 2014: Audrey Collins knows only two things about her beloved grandmother's past: She was born into nobility and she immigrated to America at seventeen years old. So when Audrey inherits her gran's home in North Yorkshire, she arrives expecting a sprawling country estate fit for lords and ladies. Instead, she finds an abandoned stone cottage perfectly preserved as Gran left it when she fled in 1941—ration book and all—and begins to uncover what secrets her family has been keeping.
France, 1915: Lady Emilie Dawes is working as a nurse on the Western Front, grateful to have escaped the restraints of her restrictive, privileged home life. But the independence she fought hard to earn is suddenly jeopardized when a familiar man shows up in one of her hospital beds. Facing him means facing her past, and the decisions she had made in fear. As the war rages around her, Emilie realizes she cannot continue running from who she is until she decides who she truly wants to be.
Over a hundred years apart, Audrey and Emilie each struggle to find purpose, love, and a place to call home in this enchanting family saga celebrating the courage of underestimated women—and the power a secret can hold across generations.
Review: A heartbreaking, yet uplifting dual-era novel of love and survival set in both 2014 and WWI, a forgotten English cottage connects American Audrey Collins to her grandmother’s clandestine past.
After her nursing license is suspended when she was found drunk on the job, Audrey battles alcoholism. When her beloved grandmother dies and leaves her a Yorkshire cottage—that no one knew she owned—Audrey heads to the UK to sell the property and perhaps learn why her grandmother concealed this part of her past. And if it was a secret, why keep the property and then will it to her?
Yet Audrey finds more than she ever expected—a welcoming village, a kindred soul in a handsome contractor, and hidden Edwardian-era letters that reveal an impossible love story between her great grandmother Lady Emilie Dawes and an unsuitable writer-turned-soldier. A slow simmer as Audrey and Emilie learn to balance love and self, both narratives weave together seamlessly to find a satisfying happily-ever-after.
If you love “Downton Abbey,” you don’t want to miss this. I love this kind of read. Well done. Easy to recommend “The Forgotten Cottage” by Courtney Ellis.
About the author: Courtney Ellis began writing at a young age, and developed an interest in history from her grandfather’s stories of World War II. After obtaining her BA in English and Creative Writing, she went on to pursue a career in publishing. She lives in Upstate New York with her rescue dog.