Inspired by a framed will found in her dream Yorkshire house, which had been built at the request of the village cheesemaker in 1726, Jane Cable discovered the historical aspect of her novel. Set near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, The Cheesemaker’s House is a page-turner that will have readers hooked instantly.
The novel follows the life of Alice Hart, who escapes to the North Yorkshire countryside to recover after her husband runs off with his secretary. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including handsome builder Richard Wainwright and kind café owner Owen Maltby. As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village ‘charmer’, what exactly does that mean?
This is a debut novel for this Author and, in my opinion, signifies the beginning of a long and illustrious career as a writer with this gentle and mysterious ghost story.
The main protagonist in this book is a recently divorced woman, and the Author does a great job of instilling a feeling of loss and sadness into this character whilst at the same time injecting her with a sense of moving on. Rather than bring in this character’s back story all at once, in an effort to get it over and done with, the Author gradually introduces all her flaws and insecurities over a period of time; this serves to draw the reader in and, even though they may not be in the same position as the character, they can easily connect with her and put themselves in her place. This serves to make her have a real aura around her, as if she is someone we know personally. The other characters in this novel are also well written, and once again, there is no cluttering up of the storyline with information that has no relation to the plot. Being from Yorkshire myself, I could identify with a lot of the traits the Author places on her characters, and also could actually put some faces of people I know to them, this ability created by the Author just made this book even more enjoyable for me. All the characters in this book are shrouded with mysteries of one kind or another and the Author feeds titbits to the reader throughout its pages, to aid them in uncovering them.
The Author writes with a style that hooks the reader from the first page, making them want to keep reading until the end, and the initial mystery laid out before the reader is one that is not easily solved; another great way to keep you hooked until the end. Despite the mild aspects of romance in the book, I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t find the Author wrote too much of this side of the main protagonists new life, sticking mainly to the ghost story aspect of the plot. Where I did feel, however, that the book tended to get bogged down was with the minutiae of village life; there are only so many times you can read about onions as big as your head, and the cut-throat world of the village fete before you never want to tend attend one again. Other than that though, the Authors description of village life in Yorkshire was spot on, and I thoroughly enjoyed her giving some of the characters in the book the local dialect, which came easily to my mind as I read causing no difficulties. Other readers not familiar with the dialect may find it hard to decipher, as I do when reading novels containing the southern US dialect. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel, and how pulling on her research into her own home, the Author was able to add realism to her work.
I would highly recommend this novel to lovers of the suspense and crime genres, but if you are totally into romantic fiction you may be disappointed in this read. Thankfully it was not a major part of this book, and as such means I will be looking for more from this Author if she keeps writing in this way.