Five stars for Jessica’s Hedgehogs

Jessica HH

I’ve just finished reading New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland’s latest book. As I had pre-ordered it, it popped up on my Kindle on publication day, earlier this week. When I discovered Jessica’s books a few months ago and saw that her latest series was called ‘Hedgehog Hollow’ I felt a little disappointed that she was moving away from the fictional Whitsborough Bay and into the Yorkshire Wolds. I needn’t have worried. What I most enjoy about Jessica’s writing (apart from the cracking tales and her skilled characterisation) is that, despite the easy to read ‘uplifting stories of love and friendship’, they are, in fact, much more than this and combine depth, humour and the pathos found in many real life difficult situations. What I’m trying to say is that they are much more than chick-lit. The Hedgehog Hollow series title reminded me of the set of books I bought just after my eldest son was born – The Brambly Hedge stories and because of that, without any grounds for doing so, I thought they might be a little too lighthearted for my taste.

My fears were unfounded. I enjoyed the first book, and enjoyed this latest one even more, partly because it gave some of the answers to the ‘why’ questions raised in the first, but there are other reasons too. The importance of being kind and the value of friendship are subjects about which I have written in my blog and these are areas which Jessica obviously feels strongly about too; both qualities shine through her books. Perhaps this is why I like them so much.

One of the themes running through the first two hedgehog books (and which will undoubtedly continue into book 3 – due out in May) is the exceptionally fraught relationship between protagonist Samantha and her mother and this particularly resonated because I have, to some extent, been there. My mother was nothing like Samantha’s but we did have a very difficult relationship and I often felt growing up (and indeed in the early days of motherhood) that I never quite reached the level of daughter-suitability that her friends’ daughters did. Subsequently there were times when I was conscious that my own my children didn’t always quite make the grade as grandchildren. It’s difficult to describe since she clearly loved us all, but appearances were paramount to my mother and my hippy-type clothing, my choice of long-haired husband, and later my son’s offbeat appearance attracted frequent though veiled criticism as we were compared to others. It was subtle and if ever I tackled her about it she would feign total shock and be upset. Nevertheless it continued unabated. My brother and I have occasionally touched on the subject of having a difficult mother (interestingly not until recent years when we were almost shocked and perhaps vindicated, to find that we had both felt the same). Despite being well looked after, well fed and clothed, always having a holiday and being given whatever our parents could afford, and having a wonderful father, we both feel cheated out of a better mother-child relationship.

Phew – I didn’t plan that when I decided to write about Hedgehog Hollow!

10 comments

  1. I enjoy the sound of this and I do like a series. I’ve just read “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Milly Johnson and loved the relationships that made the story. I’m keeping it to read next Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you like Milly Johnson you will love Jessica’s books. I also recommend Alison Sherlock’s Willow Tree Hall series (4 books), and the Glendale Hall series by Victoria Walters (3 books).

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  2. I must try these books, Eloise … Brambly Hedge for grownups! They sound fun.
    I am enjoying books by Victoria Walters but oh dear, I can’t help myself, but I go through these light novels with my editors pencil. I mean, a cow referred to as ‘he’! A male cow is a bull, godammit!
    How sad your relationship with your mother wasn’t always good, and a shame that appearances were everything for her. Perhaps she tried in her way, but was a product of her own upbringing. The first novel in the Glendale Hall series by Victoria Walters features a very difficult mother-daugher relationship, and I do recommend the book to you (and to others).
    Margaret P

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    • I thoroughly enjoyed the Glendale Hall series, and I did identify with the mother/daughter relationship. My mother was from a working class background but as an army officer had (what she herself would have referred to if it had been anyone else! ) a ‘bob on herself’.

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  3. What a lovely post and I’m suspecting quite therapeutic for you to write given your last sentence. When the first book in the series was released, I had a couple of negative reviews from readers who thought Sam’s mum was too cruel and it made them uncomfortable/they disliked the book for it and it stopped me in my tracks a bit because I write – or try to write – about reality. Reality is that so many people have difficult relationships with family members and particularly parents. Some improve with time, some deteriorate with time, and others are never good. As you’ll have noticed, I love to write about family relationships as much as I do romantic ones (if not more so) and I massively vary the relationship my characters have with their parents to also reflect reality. I’m sorry to hear about your challenges with your mum although good to see that your brother’s take on it provided some comfort.

    Thank you for your very kind words about my writing and I’m thrilled you loved your return trip to Hedgehog Hollow. I was worried about the move from Whitsborough Bay myself but Hedgehog Hollow definitely seemed to capture hearts. Phew! I remember Brambly Hedge books but I don’t think I ever read them. Gorgeous illustrations, though xx

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Jessica. I’ve actually written quite a lot about my mother though rarely shared anything. I think that relationships with others are a fundamental basis for most stories in order to give context to why people act in the way they do. A book can be a bit lightweight without. Looking forward to number 3 and will pre-order as soon as it’s available. X

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  4. My mother always favoured my younger brother. the worse he behaved, the better he was treated. She’s been dead for nearly 21 years and my brother and I have lost contact as he lives in the States. Even when she was terminally ill she gave the hospital my brother as her next of kin until I pointed out that he lived in Idaho! I think I became an overachieving perfectionist despite knowing that nothing would ever be good enough. Thank goodness for a loving husband of 49 years ( not good enough for her) and a beautiful daughter of 46.

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    • It’s so sad, isn’t it Catriona? I’ve tried very hard to make my children feel equally loved. I’m glad you have a lovely husband and daughter to dilute the hurt. X

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