It Started With a Note is the story of of single mum Cath. She has always put others before herself, first of all her son Kieran and then her brother Gary. She works hard at her job in a local supermarket and when she gets a bonus for being employee of the year, it opens up the opportunity for her to do something for herself for once. She has recently come across letters from her great-grandfather who died in the First World War. In them, he describes the beauty of the countryside around him despite the war and expresses his wish that his wife and daughter might visit France when the war is over. Knowing that this is something her grandmother and great grandmother never did – and with more than a little gentle persuasion from one of her colleagues – Cath screws up her courage and heads off to France for a month’s holiday to follow in his footsteps and see his name on the Menin Gate in Ypres.
I really felt I could identify with Cath a lot. My girls are just at the University stage, like her son, and while my daughters haven’t gone away to Uni, it does make you think about the next stage in your life. Like Cath, and many people I suppose, I have relatives who died in WW1 and are buried in Northern France. Unlike Cath, I don’t have any letters and would so love to have been able to read my great uncle’s thoughts on his experience. I have actually visited his grave which is near Arras, where Cath stays in the book, so could really visualise where she was and how she was feeling. It is very sobering to stand in one of the many military cemeteries in France and know that each gravestone represents someone’s son, husband, brother, father or friend. And to see the name of the person you are connected to is a very emotional experience as the author clearly shows through Cath’s experiences.
Also like Cath, I absolutely hate not being able to communicate with people when on holiday. I can get by in French but recognised her feelings of embarrassment, inadequacy, frustration and sometimes isolation that not being able to understand or be understood brings. Like Cath, I’d definitely be taking up handsome tour-guide Olivier’s offer of help! He was so kind and thoughtful, also helping her translate some of the letters which were written in French. It may have started with Cath simply finding the notes, but they opened up a whole new world of possibilities to her.
It Started With a Note is just the kind of book I enjoy. The setting was wonderfully described, so much so that I’d really quite like to go to France on holiday again soon! Cath was a character I felt I had a lot in common with and there is a gentle romance woven through the story as well. This book is a feel-good and uplifting, enjoyable read.
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My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blogblitz and for my free review copy of the book. It Started With a Note is available now as an ebook or in paperback. See purchase links below.
Amazon UK – It Started With a Note
Amazon US – It Started With a Note
Kobo – It Started With a Note
From the back of the book
One lost letter. A chance to change her life!
Superhero single mum Cath always puts other people first. But now that she’s seen her son safely off to university (phew!), life seems a little, well…empty.
So when Cath unexpectedly discovers some letters written by her great-grandfather during the First World War, she decides to take herself on an adventure to France to retrace his footsteps.
Cath expects to spend her holiday visiting famous battlefields and testing out her French phrase book. What she doesn’t anticipate is that her tour guide, the handsome Olivier, will be quite so charming! Soon Cath isn’t simply unearthing the stories of the past – she’s writing a brand new one of her own, which might end up taking her in a very unexpected direction…
About the author
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of her career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in her hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first romantic comedy novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016.
Cooke’s third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018.
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