#bookreview Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews published by Sphere on 30 May 2019

Synopsis via Amazon:

Molly Baker is living her best life.

Thirty-eight years old, she lives on the twenty-five-acre Hope Farm in Buckinghamshire, surrounded by (mostly) four-legged friends and rolling hills. There’s Anthony the anti-social sheep, Tina Turner the alpaca with attitude, and the definitely-not-miniature pig, Teacup.

Molly runs the farm as an alternative school for kids who haven’t thrived in mainstream education. It’s full on, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. So when the well-groomed Shelby Dacre turns up at Hope Farm asking to enrol his son Lucas, Molly isn’t fazed. 

But Lucas is distant and soon Molly realises he might be more of a handful than she anticipated. And then there’s the added problem that his dad is distractingly handsome. Molly has her beloved farm to think of – could letting Lucas and Shelby in be a terrible mistake, or the start of something wonderful?

My reading experience:

Firstly I would like to thank the author, Netgalley and the publishers for my free ARC.

Molly Baker is happily (kind of) living her unconventional life in a patched up caravan on a farm run as an alternative school for kids who have difficulties in mainstream education. Her best friends are the animals – she shares food, her home and her blankets with them on a regular basis. Molly is coming up on 40, and has made the decision to live no ordinary life because guess what, she really doesn’t like socialising with people all that much.

This is a story of every day life on Hope Farm. There are short sharp descriptions of each animal “friend”, the farm helpers, and some of the children but it lacks substance or anything close to a narrative on reality. The characters sit on the surface waiting to be given life which is a shame as this could be a bigger feast of a tale. As it is, it is a very jolly, warm sunny day story.

As a reader what I liked most was Molly for just living her life not so much as an escape but as a choice. What is “normal”? There really is no such thing. Well done to Carole for choosing a different kind of heroine.

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