Like the author, Julia Ibbotson, I love books about buying and restoring properties especially in quaint little villages or countrysides so her novel The Old Rectory: Espcape to a Country Kitchen was really an enjoyable read for for me. This is a shorter book at a little under two hundred pages and it just flew by as Julia related she and her husband’s journey towards getting the old Victorian rectory restored to its former glory.
Julia and her husband buy a property that is in the middle of the moors in the midlands of England. The rectory is in need of major restoration and they debate on whether they are up for it and can afford it but ultimately they know that this is the place for them. As the restorations are going forward they begin to learn that the rectory has a very rich history and this fascinates them even more. However as with all things they most definitely have their struggles in getting the rectory to where they want it and many times they are very frustrated but they keep on and eventually it all pays off. With beautiful gardens and an abundance of fresh veggies and herbs, the rectory has become the home they always wanted.
In reading any memoir it always helps when the main person is one that you can see yourself sitting at the kitchen table having a coffee or an English tea with and Julia is just that sort of person. She had worked hard all of her life and really wanted to get away from the craziness of the world and do something meaningful to her and her family. She is also someone who loves to cook and views it as a way of showing her love for her family and friends. It brings her joy to see them enjoy the bounty she prepares and I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was a part of her family and able to enjoy what is obviously a close knit and happy family.
While I enjoyed the sections of the book dealing with the restoration of the rectory I have to say that I really loved the mouth watering recipes that Julia included in the book that reflect the four seasons. As she said in her book “food seems to reflect the moods of life; it follows the seasons and creates your memories”. Most of us can relate to that as many of our fondest memories are related to sharing or cooking food with a loved one. There are so many recipes I plan on trying but I’ll just name a few here: Hot Oranges in Vanilla Caramel Syrup, Potato Dauphinoise de Loire which is a creamy cheesy dish -yum!, Traditional Lemon Syllabub, and Potato Pete Soup. This is just to name a few as there are many others that sound so scrumptious.
The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen was a comforting read for me. Between the restoration, the recipes, and the obvious love that the author has for her family I found that the novel warmed my heart. The only thing missing was that I would have liked to see photos of the before and after of the restoration. The author did include pencil sketches at the beginning of each chapter though that were done by her daughter and they really added a touch of charm. This is a memoir that falls into a few categories so if you like books about restorations and you’re a foodie then The Old Rectory is certainly a book you’ll enjoy!
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.