Dragonfly Farm is an idyllic place to recover from a disastrous childhood, bad relationships and general challenges. An orchard full of different types of apple trees, authentic buildings ungentrified and unfashionable, the sort of place we would all like to visit, or better still, live in, once fed up with the hot and punishing city. As several of the characters say “Dragonfly Farm was more like home than anywhere else in the world”. Unfortunately the farm has a history of difficulties between two families, the Melchiors and the Culbones which at the hands of a less able writer than Henry could have descended into a heavy multigenerational family saga. This book, however, maintains a lightness of touch as the seasons are brought to life in this tale of tragedies and triumphs. The characters, who include a fiercely independent Tabitha, a confused but loving Gabriel and a determined Georgia, all leap off the page as being real and significant to the story. Henry does not just write romantic stories; her narratives are complex where romance rarely runs smoothly. This book is an enjoyable read with much to recommend it, and I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to read and review it ahead of publication day.
When the book opens Tabitha is hard at work on the farm which has become her sanctuary after a difficult life with her estranged parents. She has a formidable energy, as she plans how she and her beloved great uncle Matthew will develop the cider making which is a locally popular product, partly as a tribute to his late wife Joy. It is only when the improbably named Dash appears on the doorstep that she realises that within a few moments she has lost all stability and that her way of life is under threat. Meanwhile in London, the author almost leads the reader into a very different story as a man admires a knife which would cut through flesh, fat and sinew. Fortunately murder is not planned, and Gabriel instead demonstrates his love for his partner Lola and their daughter Plum. As revelations emerge of past loves and loss, the legend of the drowned Eleanor remains in the background, inviting speculation and reminiscence, as the truth of identity becomes vital.
This is a book which contains deep feelings and emotions, and not only straightforward romance. The power of devotion and protective love is definitely a theme, and provides a counterpoint to the despair occasioned by one or two more tragic relationships. This is ultimately a book of the positives of human nature, mixed with a little humour and much love. There are coincidences and happiness, even when emotions are running high. There are strong women and less strong men, happy plans as well as difficult challenges. This book is effortlessly readable and gently reassuring. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a substantial and romantic book, and it will satisfy Veronica Henry’s many fans of deftly handled tales concerning families in all their challenging variety.
I am particularly pleased to be posting this on Publication Day! I hope that this book proves as popular as Veronica’s other books; it certainly deserves a lot of favourable attention!