Book Review | “The Wedding Cake Tree” by Melanie Hudson #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 9 April, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By:

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “The Wedding Cake Tree” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

Why I choose this for a holiday weekend:

I wanted to read something light for Easter weekend with a strong focus on life and love (as this is what the holiday is best meant to celebrate!) – when I read the premise of The Wedding Cake Tree I immediately wanted to read it! Of course, being stateside I had to wait my turn as the print releases come after the Digital First editions and even then, there is a slight wait-time for the novels to make it across the Pond. I don’t generally mind the waiting periods, as in-between reading the new releases I get the luxury to read the backlist of titles ChocLit has been producing since it began. To me, this is an incredible blessing as I get to ‘meet’ the authors from whence they began their ChocLit tenure.

I have a particular fondness for Epistolary novels – as I’ve regularly mentioned on my blog, I’m a letter-writer IRL who loves postal mail correspondences, thus whenever I have the pleasure of finding a novel which highlights letters (or written exclusively through them as in Letters from Skye), postcards, petit bleus (as viewed inside Moonlight Over Paris) or other gestures of communication sent in transit from one sender to a receiver is true joy for me! I try to keep my eyes peeled for new stories which include bits of mail inside them, but sometimes, they arrive as if they’ve found me before I found them! (a bit of a nodding towards why I included a self-quote on my Twitter banner!) All the stories I’m reading are threaded through my Postal Mail & Correspondences category in case your keen to view them!

When I first saw “P.S. I Love You” I hadn’t realised it was based on a novel, nor was I thinking I’d one day have the chance to interact with the author via a chat on Twitter or start to collect her novels, as none of us know which doors will start to open as we seek out stories which truly attach themselves into our heart. I personally loved the character journey of the film – it was such a clever one, very non-traditional and highly emotionally charged; it’s not for watching if your under high stress in other words!

I personally love stories where mementos are left behind – such as why I am enjoying interviewing authors from Bookouture as my conversation with Renita D’ Silva in April will reveal. She used a journal to connect her characters whereas Hudson has selected using letters left behind from her heroine’s Mum. You can gather deeper inside the mind of a character by seeing their reactions to letters inasmuch as their approach to writing them; letters give us a raw honesty with ourselves and those we’re writing.

When I watched the unexpected journey Orlando Bloom’s character took inside the film “Elizabethtown” on the larkspur suggested road trip by Kirsten Dunst’s character – you could say I have an attachment to serendipitous story-lines encouraged by people who get you to ‘walk outside your comfort box’ in order to discover a period of new growth and enlightenment.

Imagine then,

my delight to dip inside The Wedding Cake Tree?

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Wedding Cake Tree” by Melanie Hudson #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Wedding Cake Tree
Source: Direct from Publisher

Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future?

Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that one day, she’d swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher’s – she just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

At the reading of her mother’s will, she’s shocked to learn that she hardly knew Rosamund at all, and that inheriting St Christopher’s hangs on one big – and very inconvenient – condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn.
Caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair walk in Rosamund’s footsteps and read her letters at each breathtaking new place. As Grace slowly uncovers the truth about her mother’s incredible life story, Alasdair and Grace can’t help but question their own futures.

Will Rosamund’s madcap scheme go to plan or will events take an unexpected turn?

An emotional, fun-filled and adventurous journey of a lifetime.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781781892244

Published by ChocLitUK

on 19th August, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 384

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback, Audiobook and E-book

Converse via: #ChocLit

For a smidge of a pinch of Hudson’s humour, read this blog post of hers!

View a description and photo of a ‘Wedding Cake Tree’ (otherwise known as the Giant Dogwood)

About Melanie Hudson

Melanie Hudson

A Yorkshire lass first and foremost, Melanie left her native county in 1994 when she joined the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Officer.

Melanie enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle awarded by her military career. In addition to working at several air stations throughout the UK, she experienced an operational tour in the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, and served as air liaison officer with the British Army during their insurgence into Iraq in 2003.

In May 2004 she transferred to the Royal Navy Air Traffic Control Specialisation, the highlight of which was an exhilarating stint in HMS Invincible. Melanie had a son in 2007, before retiring from military life in 2010, after which she moved to Dubai temporarily where she finally found the time to pursue her passion for writing. She wrote the majority of her first novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, while sitting in a Japanese tea shop overlooking the Burj Kalifa.

Melanie is happiest when wandering in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands (pretending to be all mysterious and romantic). Melanie lives in Devon.

The letters:

The first letter (of the journey) was more of a encouragement mantra on how best to live than a true note in of itself, which threw Grace a bit by the cheekiness of it’s delivery. Alasdair I noted was enjoying his bit in this journey as he was both letter deliverer and bearer of news from Grace’s Mum who had organised it all. Sometimes I have found in my own life, the smallest note can hold the most impact if you allow the words to fully encompass your heart and allow a pensive moment to contemplate their fuller meaning. Letters don’t always have to be complete conversations, sometimes they are merely the vehicle to impart words of clarity and of thought-provoking motivation to change your prospective.

The small note found in her suitcase of clothes packed by her Mum reminded me of the notes my Mum left me in my school year lunches – little bits of encouraging thoughts and little pushes of reminders to try new things. Mums have a way of getting you to think about things, even if your not ready to change, you can contemplate the choices you have until you are ready.

I loved the earnest honesty of Grace’s Mum being pulled out of the letters, she’s giving a visceral viewing of her past whilst owning how it wasn’t absent of it’s faults, but how much she wanted her daughter to feel connected to the places she loved most. There is a sadness to how she’s choosing to explain everything but part of the heartache of this is recogising how uplifting it was she gave her daughter the journey to take rather than to read everything at a distance without the ability to directly connect to the heart of each letter.

How Hudson was able to pull Grace’s Mum fully forward through the letters, to where she wasn’t ethereal but a living component of the story was the best surprise of all! Her emotional connective threading of the letters and the situations being pulled out of the past, added so many lovely layers to the fuller story surrounding Grace’s mother – to such an extent, you honestly cannot imagine how the ending of the mystery will knit together! I know, I did not – although, truthfully, I did not wish to guess. I love being a whisper of a breath away from ‘knowing’ what is meant to be known, residing alongside a character whose about to find out what I will know, too. This is the best joy in Epistolary stories – the letters become the keys and the story evolves out of what they reveal.

My Review of The Wedding Cake Tree:

Losing a Mum is shockingly brutal on a daughter’s soul but in Grace’s case, her mother threw her for a loop after she died when she encouraged her to take an unexpected detour to become acquainted with a life her mother previously led. Quite the shocker for a grieving daughter to take to stock, as she thought this was going to be a simple reading of a will but in turn, learnt the harder truth that sometimes what you think is a simple affair is quite extraordinarily complicated! I loved the presentation of her solicitor as he has this well-conceived personality, complete with tortoise as a companion and barometer of his clients moods.

Grace pulls out the first letter not quite willing to accept the terms of her mother’s will but yearning to understand a bit of what her Mum was thinking as she put mind to plan this request; as such, it was a kindness Hudson gave the readers to find the letter is a heart-warming gesture from a Mum to a daughter to knit out the last bit she can give through her words. The letter itself is straight to the point but in an endearing tone, giving a bit of levity and insight as you read it whilst anchouring the heartache to the page. A flashback allows us to walk backwards through the loss of her Mum directly and the bridging of time around the funeral; this is where we see how the earth and flowers meant the world to Grace’s mother. It’s a reflective piece that grants us a bit of a view inside the emotional turmoil Grace resided inside as she came to seek peace from the absence of a mother whose presence gave her the fortitude she felt comforted by.

I love a good run of felicity in Contemporary Rom – it adds to the charm of the setting and the pacing of the story; herein I am wicked delighted by Alasdair’s presence in Grace’s life. He’s arrived at a right jolly moment where she could use someone to urge her onward and give her a bit of something to chatter about than the doubts she’s growing in her mind about the journey itself. Alasdair is an honourable bloke who wants to do right by Grace’s Mum, hoping to inspire Grace along the way and take an R&R trip for himself; not bad on all counts!

Grace’s Mum had a hard upbringing and a difficult sister to navigate as she wasn’t one to reconcile hard feelings; you start to see her mother in a new light, one where she was protective of her past whilst trying to move forward into her future. She tucked a large portion of who she was into an internal box of memories where she only felt she ought to share at the end of her life rather than a moment where she could physically be there to explain the extra bits of what might draw a note of question from Grace. It’s a hard choice either way you look at it, but with the letters, Grace is re-discovering a mother who was attempting to right a few wrongs along the way.

Grace has a lot of her Mum’s spirit in her, as she took a spontaneous trip back up a hill to encourage a surefire way of knowing how much Alasdair cares about his position in her life. If it weren’t for his training and quick thinking, Grace would have caught a cold as foul as the weather she was caught up inside. It was a lovely small moment where two people who were at odds knowing their thoughts on each other to be given a reprieve where they needed each other. A good turning towards realising sometimes the details are not as important as the person.

As the story contemplates the fuller meaning of where our roots lie and where our paths in life attempt to take us away from said roots, the beauty of the novel is how it’s paced and envelopes you along the journey Grace is taking. You feel so tucked inside the living moments of where a daughter has the chance to re-enter her Mum’s footsteps whilst asking herself questions she had avoided about her own life. Meanwhile, it’s the locales we’re exploring along this journey that are a feast for the readerly eye – hidden little bits from England and Scotland take flight right before you, and you feel as if a part of them have touched you as you read the words Hudson has left behind.

Alasdair is a right and proper mystery – he has this quirky charm about him intermixed with a secret, as he’s not readily forward about his own affairs yet he has the understanding of a mate you’ve known for ages. He takes Grace off-guard more times than naught, but it’s his awareness of things and how things affect you as you take an internal nod towards personal growth that I think thwarts a few romantic moments as Grace is still sorting out who she is and what she wants for the long term. He’s a bit ahead of her thinking about why his life is so off-kilter from where he felt he’d be but it’s how they each work out their emotional health that befits the journey their on.

Alasdair helps Grace understand the military life of her Mum’s past, as small snippets of her mother’s previous life are unfolding inside the letters themselves but a closer-to-heart glimpse of that kind of life is ebbing out of Alasdair to where I think Grace felt she could connect the past to the present; if only in small measures, as so much was left unsaid until now. Yet, for their connection to move past the superficial and to strengthen past their wanton attraction, they each have to give and take a bit more of what they do not naturally give to each other. They each hold back – guarding their hearts but also, not allowing themselves to see past a certain point where if they could come together and find a route that lends itself to working as partners, they might be able to achieve the freedom they need to thrive.

A quite small Fly in the Ointment:

Honestly, although the strong words were well placed and in particular were attached to a character who barely was on the radar of the story-line – there was a certain fly by the wheel of your moxie scene up in the Highlands where an exchange of levity and humour took on a flavour of the words I most despise. Mostly, I took it in stead and tucked back into the narrative as what I loved most about the story is how it was highlighting the character growth of two characters who were experiencing a singular journey from two separate perspectives – words aside, I was blessed Hudson was less inclined to include them overall.

On the contemporary writing style of Ms Hudson:

Straight-away as I began reading Chapter 1, I loved the words and turns of phrase Hudson was giving me to chew on! She had a way of flipping a phrase right round on it’s edge and using it in a completely clever new way! I even liked the manner in which she opened her story as it is a unique introduction whilst giving such a strong supporting cast member a well-flushed out personality! (here I refer to Mr Grimes!)

I tend to shy-off terminal illness stories, especially those which deal with Cancer, as I have a sensitive heart and find they too oft will set me into a downward spiral of emotional angst. However, I hadn’t known the Mum inside this novel had a terminal illness nor that it was Cancer. I was blessed to find this story was writ ‘after’ the illness itself, so there isn’t a direct threading of what her character went through as the illness progressed and for this, I am grateful. Sometimes we have to own what we can handle as we are reading fiction and for me personally – medical dramas are something I vacated in my teenage years when I could handle them better. Except to say, the recently minted drama “Heartbeat” about a heart surgeon of whom I find uplifting to watch rather than difficult to trudge through as it’s incredible the advances we’ve made in organ surgeries! This American serial is based on the life of Dr. Kathy Magliato of whom you can read about on her biography.

The way in which Hudson composed Grace’s initial note from her Mum was simply classic – she did not want her daughter to alight on the harder point she’s absent but rather the joyful part of taking one last journey with her as her mother instructs her to do with her letters. This is a beautiful endnote to a mother-daughter relationship, wherein you feel the emotional pull of both women but a bit of a hopeful peace to the experience as well. I was so moved by this letter, I knew I could handle what would follow as like I said I have a sensitive heart when it comes to these types of stories!

Hudson has a soft tone inside her Contemporary Rom – you can ease right inside it and feel welcomed! I love the pacing she used and the mannerisms she granted her characters. You feel so at ease amongst them they feel like weathered friends than new acquaintances!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

A bit of wicked sweet news I discovered about this novel:

Spot-on and well earned!

Love finding out celebratory bits like this on behalf of the stories I love reading!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer

I began reading ‘The Wedding Cake Tree’ in March, however, I was blindsided by a migraine (as I have chronic migraines, but had a break from them for nearly a year) which rendered me unable to continue reading this novel until April. I had to take a short break from blogging, tweeting and reading as a result of the migraine and the recovery time after I dealt with it directly. I am thankful I can resume my ChocLit reads as I was so excited to receive my ChocLit parcel of books!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

I disclosed my next ChocLit reads on #BookishNotBookish No.6

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

I celebrated my 3rd Blogovesrary on 31st of March, 2016 wherein I revealled my Best of the Best Reads for 2015 via my End of the Year Survey. More than one ChocLit novel made the cut and received a special Award from me to acknowledge how lovely it was written!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.


Our beautifully lovely chats via Nurph are gone but our chat is resilient! When I went to host our lovely chat this Saturday (9th of April) I noticed Nurph was simply *gone!* without forewarning – therefore, our past year’s chats are not all archived on my blog as I was working towards that goal. Some are but most of our lovelies will remain in memory only. As we move forward, I’ve decided to start using a new app for chats, which is TweetChat as it allows you to buffer and not buffer the incoming tweets, thus, I created a small tutorial which is sticky on @ChocLitSaturday and featured below as a short guide to help you use this new platform as we resume our conversations! *decided not to use this platform

I hope we’ll see you chatting with us! Spread the joy of #ChocLitSaturday to your bookish friends! Visit my post on #ChocLitSaturdays vs #ChocLitSaturday for more information! And, the words I expressed about #ChocLitSaturday on my spotlight for The Wild One by Janet Gover.

Remember you can also drop in on the conversations are your able too!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

TweetChat tutorial created by Jorie in Canva.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Reader Interactive Question:

What do you love about Contemporary Rom?
What draws your eye to stories set in the modern world rather than the historical past!?

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

Read why my heart was tethered & tied inside letters of Grace's Mum w/in this #Contemporary Rom! Click To Tweet

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Wedding Cake Tree”, author photograph for Melanie Hudson, author biography, book synopsis, and book reviewer badge were all provided by ChocLitUK and used with permission. #ChocLitSaturdays Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. TweetChat tutorial created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 9 April, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Britian, British Literature, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Green Publishing, Indie Author, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Life Shift, Military Fiction, Modern British Author, Modern British Literature, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Postal Mail | Letters & Correspondence, Romance Fiction, Scotland, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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