Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 30 January 2012

Renovation, Renovation, Renovation by Nell Dixon

'There's an atmosphere here and it's got something to do with the history of this house.'

'Renovation, Renovation, Renovation' tells the story of a couple who run a house renovation business together, buying properties, revamping them and selling them on. Kate and Steve are no longer together other than for the purposes of their business, although Kate is not sure at times that this is what she really wants. After seven years together, she had hoped for more, but Steve doesn't seem to feel the same way anymore; they have 'simply been drifting along' together. Things came to a head when Kate asked Steve to bid at auction on her dream home, a barn, with visions of a happy future for them both together there, and instead he returned to announce he’d bought a different old place entirely, called Myrtle Cottage. They live together in a less than perfect harmony in the cottage as they gradually work through all the many jobs there are to do on the property before they can hope to sell it and go their separate ways. 

When Steve makes an intriguing discovery after opening up the old fireplace, and Kate feels she senses a presence within the old house, Kate's interest is sufficiently aroused for her and her sister Lou to sign up for an evening class about discovering the history of your house, to try and learn more about the architecture and former inhabitants of Myrtle, formerly Walnut, Cottage. A couple of sub-plots add depth to the novel, including a major, unexpected event in Lou’s life, and a shock for the two sisters when their mother returns from her holiday in Las Vegas, and she has brought more than just her suitcases back with her! Several other characters add to the tale, including Kate's jealous colleague Nasreen, course tutor Mike, and Louise's ex, Gary. The renovations of the cottage, a listed building, are continuously hampered by the appearance of disapproving Mr Poole from the council, only adding to Kate and Steve's troubles, and holding up the progress of the works. 

The novel has an interesting structure; Kate recounts the majority of the story, but short elements of the tale are also told from the point of view of Mary-Ann, who lived in the very same cottage back in the 1600’s, during the Civil War, and who is also blighted by problems of a romantic nature; her love for beau Joshua is against her parents’ wishes – they want to see her betrothed to another, Thomas. As Kate progresses with her research into the house's history and previous occupants, looking through the archives and census data, she wonders 'if I was doing the right thing by probing into the past'. She is certain that she has heard and seen someone in the house, despite Steve's refusal to believe her. There are smells and sounds that are unaccountable for, strange apparitions that cannot be explained, is there an element of the paranormal at the cottage? At the same time, she is full of confusion, trying to uncover her true feelings about Steve, and whether they have any future together or not. 

This is a well-written, engaging, romantic read with an involving storyline and added intrigue of a ghostly nature! I really enjoyed it.  


Published in the UK by Myrmidon on 5th March 2012 in paperback.
Kindle edition available now.

Thank you very much to the author and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

You can visit the author's blog here. 


  1. This does sound interesting - but the cover doesn't seem to go with the story at all!

  2. This is one of those books that I wouldn't have given a second thought to...due to the cover...but it sounds charming! Great review!


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