2017 Reviews · Australian · dual time frame · romance

Book Review: The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark

Title: The Stationmaster’s Cottage

Author: Phillipa Nefri Clarks cottage

Published: February 14 2017

Publisher: Self published

Pages: 338

Genres:  Fiction, Dual Time Frame, Romance


Rating: 4 stars

A place where love is eternal and time is no barrier — The Stationmaster’s Cottage

Christie Ryan believes her extraordinary life has everything she could ever hope for. She travels the globe as a make-up artist, working in the exotic locations of the movie business. In between assignments she lives on the glamorous waterfront of Melbourne with her fiancé, Derek. Their relationship may not be perfect, but she has finally cultivated the stability that was absent to her throughout her childhood. Life is good.

But time had different plans for Christie. The death of her estranged grandmother draws her into a mystery fifty years in the making and takes her to a small cottage in the seaside town of River’s End. She seeks help from enigmatic artist Martin Blake, but their aims clash as she pursues the answers that he is determined to keep hidden. As the secrets of the past begin to unravel, however, so does the safe world Christie has built around her.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage is a rich and beautiful romance set in two eras. Its unforgettable characters weave a story of fiercely protected secrets, courage, betrayal, redemption, and everlasting love.

My review:

Decades old family secrets, a rundown cottage with heartbreaking history and a spectacular coastal locale is at the heart of author Phillipa Nefri Clark’s intriguing novel, The Stationmaster’s Cottage. Weaving the love stories of two women, separated by time but forever tied together by lineage, The Stationmaster’s Cottage will delight readers who enjoy unravelling secrets of the past.

The focus of The Stationmaster’s Cottage begins with Christie Ryan, a young makeup artist, who is in a relationship with a handsome but rather self absorbed man named Derek. Of late, Christie and Derek have struggled to connect in their relationship due to time constraints. An opportunity to embark on a romantic getaway is just what this couple needs. However, on the day of departure to romantic bliss, Christie receives some devastating news, her grandmother has passed away. Although estranged from her grandmother, Christie feels she still must say goodbye properly and attend the funeral. It is later revealed that although Christie was estranged from her grandmother, she still played a vital role in Christie’s life, caring for her after both her parent’s tragically died. With a funeral to attend in the small coastal town of River’s End, Christie cancels her trip with Derek. When she arrives at River’s End, Christie learns she is the recipient of a rundown cottage, courtesy of her grandmother and great aunt Martha. The discovery of a set of love letters from over half a century ago and a stunning painting inside the cottage sets Christie off on a journey into the past, revealing much about her grandmother, great aunt and a mysterious man named Thomas Blake. Aiding Christie in her investigations into her family’s past and settling a decade’s old mystery is Martin Blake, a local resident and relative of Thomas Blake. The cottage has many secrets to share, but these do not come easily to Christie.

I was pleased to be given an opportunity to read and review this engaging novel. Phillipa Nefri Clark is a new writer on my reading radar and after reading The Stationmaster’s Cottage, I would be keen to explore more of her work in the future. I was enlightened to discover that The Stationmaster’s Cottage was inspired by a property nearby to the author. Just like the author, I am deeply intrigued by the secret history properties have to share with us.  I liked how the author drew inspiration from a real life locale to inform her story. The passages focussed on the cottage and the surrounding coastal locale were a pleasure to read. Clark’s prose in these areas is vivid, as well as rich in detail, enabling the reader to feel like they are truly a part of the setting. It is also very clear the author has a deep infinity to the sea, which transferred to the page with ease.

The device of using a mysterious painting and a collection of love letters from many years ago to drive the narrative was a good choice on behalf of the author. I love stories about family secrets and those that involve important props such as letters, serve to make the book more appealing. The family mystery aspect of the novel ignited my curiosity in this book and encouraged me to read the novel in a relatively short time period. Readers will no doubt find The Stationmaster’s Cottage a highly readable and accessible novel. The pace of the book is set at an ideal level, so the reader can immerse themselves completely in the unfolding story. My only qualm with the novel was the transitions from the past to present, which I can appreciate is not an easy task. At times, I felt the movements from the past to the present timelines were not quite as clear as they could have been.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage is novel rich in character. Christie’s journey is a worthy one and she makes an obvious transition from a young woman ruled by her domineering partner, to a stronger woman in charge of her own destiny by the close of the book. Her accompanying love story is fraught with matters of the heart that made for an emotional read. Tied to Christie’s story is her great aunt Martha’s story. I did enjoy this aspect of the novel slightly more than Christie’s story. Martha’s story takes to reader back in time and reveals a tragic past, defined by misunderstanding and unfortunately matters left unsaid, leaving a trail of broken hearts that reverberates across the decades. Thankfully, through Christie’s involvement, there is a satisfying ending in store for the characters featured in both the past and present day timelines.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage was a lovely read from cover to cover. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to those who appreciate intricate love stories and well woven dual time frame books, in the same vein as Kate Morton’s novels.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark was published in February 2017 by the author, details on how to purchase the book can be found on the author’s website here.

*With thanks to the author, Phillipa Nefri Clark, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


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