A mystery with a romance, Aunt Bea’s Legacy combines what many readers love: a quaint English village, some friendly and not so friendly ghosts, twists and turns in the mystery and romance and a surprise ending. And I love a mystery whose ending I can’t guess! Main character, Lucy Dixon is a chef. I love reading about her baking and canning, living on a small working farm. Very inspirational for those of us who dream of orchards and berry patches and herb gardens.
Lucy is an appealing character. While a confident chef, she is unsure of herself in terms of relationships and life’s choices.She decides to leave her London chef’s position to stay at her aunt’s house in order to find out how her aunt died. What are the noises that haunt the house, from footsteps to crying, from screams to eerie images? Is this why her aunt was found dead with a fireplace poker in hand?
Her aunt’s will requires Lucy to live at River View for one year to inherit the house. Her love for her aunt, who helped raise her after her mother’s death, is part of the reason for her increasing love for River View. “In fact when I arrived at the farmhouse and I opened the kitchen door, call me daft, but it felt like the house was wrapping arms around me and welcoming me to where I belonged….I felt a deep sense of contentment and somewhere in the depths of my soul I knew that this was where I belonged, I had come home.”
Jeanette Ford felt the same way when she lived in a house that became the inspiration for River View, which I told Jeanette I viewed as a character in the novel. Jeanette said to me, “I sometimes visit Hereford, and a few years ago, I took my courage in both hands and went to the farmhouse. There I met the lovely elderly couple who have owned the house for well over thirty years. They’d actually heard of me. ‘Oh, you’re Jeanette!’ and they willingly showed me around the house. The moment I stepped inside, I felt as if the house recognised me and embraced me to welcome me back. For me, that house will always have a soul; it is indeed a character in its own right. I’m happy you picked up on that. And that’s why the series is called ‘The River View Series.’ ”
The peace of the house and village is broken by the sounds and cries of ghostly visitors. Lucy is determined to stay, although she begins to be afraid that there is something more sinister than the seemingly other worldly guests. Jeanette dangles the paranormal tantalizingly in front of the reader. What these turn out to be, I won’t share—no spoilers! Aunt Bea’s appearances are left to be believed. Jeanette has an open mind about these experiences, having had a few “experiences” with family members who have passed on, which were positive for her.
The mystery and paranormal elements are balanced by the warm and caring village community. Jeanette is not a city person. Her character Lucy discovers this about herself as well. While loving her London’s visits, Lucy is drawn to her beloved farmhouse and to those residents she has come to love. “Lucy has dinner at Ken and Sheila’s home, “This is where I want to be,” I thought to myself, ‘I want to be part of a family like this, where I am only expected to be me and loved for who I am….’ ”
A beautiful and natural part of this novel is the caring relationships between the younger and older generations. We see caregivers in Sutton Court with their sincere compassion for the seniors in their care. We see parents being supported and respected by their children, too often missing from today’s society. As a caregiver myself, I find that very comforting.
Jeanette observes, “Life is becoming very shallow and self-gratifying. With that, caring about the older generation goes out the window…and so the rift between the generations gets wider.”
Jeanette is a talented mystery writer. Fans will be happy to know that her stories taking place in Sutton-on-Wye have continued because of reader interest. And there is no doubt her skill at presenting romance in young and old. Her ideal love? “It would be someone who loves me as I am and supports me rather than being critical. Someone to whom I’ll always be beautiful, no matter how fat I get. (Writing involves a lot of sitting down and a lot of chocolate.)”
Who could disagree either with the romance or the chocolate!
Lucy is a talented baker, delivering her cakes, jams and breads and other baked goods to businesses in the area. We thought she might like to add our Raisin Whole Wheat Bread to her bread baking. So delicious—add it to your family table too!
Whole Wheat Raisin Bread
This Whole Wheat Raisin Bread is an ideal breakfast bread, great with soup for lunch and perfect for a snack after school or work. Not an overly sweet bread, the bread has a natural sweetness from the raisins. Make in a loaf pan or round it for a country look. Homemade bread is so much tastier than commercial bread, is healthier without all the preservatives and inexpensive to make. You can control the bread’s ingredients, including gluten, sugar and salt. The aroma from homemade bread is one of life’s cherished memories.
Yield: 2 medium loaves or 1 large loaf
2 pkgs dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
7 tablespoons light oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups gluten/bread white flour
2-4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup golden raisins
1 egg, beaten for wash
1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon mixed, optional
- In large bowl, soften yeast in warm water. Allow 2-3 minutes to proof. (It should bubble if yeast is good.)
- Add oil, sweetener, salt and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Add enough flour to form a stiff, sticky dough. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Knead in raisins.
- Place 1 tablespoon light oil in bowl. Turn dough to grease top. Cover and let rise in draft free spot until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Punch down dough, knead again and prepare loaves. Divide dough into 2 portions.
- Form two round loaves and pinch ends to seal or roll into rectangles and pinch ends together Let rise in draft free spot until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. About 15 minutes into the second rising, preheat oven to 350. Place pan of water on the
- Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. With a sharp knife. slice bread tops one or two times.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. The bottom of the loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Cool.
- To freeze: Bring bread to room temperature. Securely wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before freezing.
Cut the sugar: Use 2 tablespoons Stevia in place of honey.
More fiber: Use whole wheat flour in place of white whole wheat flour.
Buttery: Use butter in place of oil.
Sweeter: Add ½ cup honey, agave or sugar
Find this book and other award winning B.R.A.G.Medallion Honorees at: www.bragmedallion.com