The Cottage at Rosella Cove isn’t a fast moving tale but it keeps its intrigue and warmth, making for a fine read.
Sandie Docker’s second novel is told across multiple timelines, unveiling the love, grief and dreams of multiple players, culminating in a connected finale.
The two main stories follows Nicole, a writer who takes up residence in a cottage at Rosella Cove. She’s escaping a recent trauma in her life, which we learn from an earlier timeline that slowly builds a picture of her life before things changed. In present day, her solace is short-lived as the friendly beachside community takes her under their wing, helping her start a new life.
Also in present day, we meet Charlie, an aging hermit who lives in a nearby boatshed. His viewpoint enters the picture frequently, hinting at a deeper connection to Nicole’s cottage than what first appears.
When Nicole uncovers a series of old letters, written by Ivy to her husband Tom over the span of 35 years until her death in 1976, we begin to realise that Ivy may be the connection that Charlie is hiding.
The Cottage at Rosella Cove is a sweet, sentimental tale with just enough mystery to keep it intriguing. The romance element comes primarily from Ivy’s letters which are a celebration of love even through the bad times. They’re beautifully written and offer a change of style from the rest of the novel.
Docker’s writing has a lot of charm, offering good place-setting and strong, distinguishable characters who feel fully fleshed out despite any real opportunities to see multiple facets of their personalities. The only real exception to this is Nicole’s fiancé, Mark, who progresses to being the most complex personality.
Also sweet is Kathryn Hartman’s audiobook narration, returning after narrating Docker’s first novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café. Her gentle voice and subtle characterisations make for fine, easy listening, conjuring up the feel of a seaside town and the gentle start of new beginnings. The audiobook runs for approximately nine and a half hours, released through WaveSound.
While The Cottage at Rosella Cove isn’t a fast moving tale, it keeps its intrigue and warmth, making for a fine read.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis