BOOK CLUB: Poet’s Cottage

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Author: Josephine Pennicott
ISBN: 978-1-742610-89-4
RRP: $27.99

Poet’s Cottage is not what I expected, to say the least. When I heard that I had this coming up to read I wasn’t excited, I can’t tell you now what I was expecting because I don’t remember – what I can tell you is that it certainly wasn’t what I got. Having said that, all I heard was the title so this was a feeling I got before I even read the blurb on the back of the book. I was more expecting a romantic, soul searching journey I think.

I started reading the very same day I received the book and was quickly sucked into the threads of this story that centres around an atmospheric old house in a small fishing town in Tasmania. The house is Poet’s Cottage, inherited by Sadie from her mother who spent her early years in the house with her family.

Poet’s Cottage is written in the present day when Sadie moves to Tasmania with her daughter after the breakdown of her marriage and the death of her mother, she decides on a change of scenery and moves into Poet’s Cottage. Pencubbitt is certainly a far cry from Sydney.

poets cottage

The story isn’t all set in the present day though, a lot of the story is set in 1936 when Sadie’s grandmother was living in Poet’s Cottage, we learn of events as Sadie does.

In 1936 Poet’s Cottage was inhabited by children’s author Pearl Tatlow, her husband and her two daughters. Now, close to a century later, Sadie moves in with her daughter and Sadie is also a writer. She is working freelance writing for magazines but hoping to write an expose revealing all of the previously unknown information about her infamous grandmother.

They say Poet’s Cottage has always been home to creative types and writers, it has an aura that calls to it’s own and Tatlow’s always return, which is why the whole town seems to know exactly who Sadie is from the moment she arrives in town.

Gorgeously written, this book is entirely a work of fiction inspired by the beautiful Tasmanian landscape, a picturesque cottage and the unique mentality of tiny towns where everyone knows everyone else. Pair that with an inexplicable mystery from much earlier in the century and you have an intriguing read that will keep you guessing.

This book has a little bit of everything and certainly kept my brain leafing through tidbits of info long after I should have been sleeping as I tried to fit the pieces together.

Pennicott’s storytelling is vivid and haunting as I watch the scenes playback in my mind, perfectly depicted with her descriptions. The characters jumped out of the page at me and forced me to to feel for them, a whole range of emotions for the situations they all had to live through.

There were times I kept sitting back thinking that it all sounded a little deja vu, a little of history repeating, which was encouraged by all the talk of Poet’s Cottage being haunted and Sadie’s physical resemblance to Pearl.

The atmosphere evoked within these pages definitely suits the period concerned and my only issue was that at times I found myself getting lost in which timezone i was supposed to be foucssing on.

Poet’s Cottage is a book that certainly exceeded my expectations and exercised my mind.

A selection of our members read Poet’s Cottage, find out what they thought below…

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Poet’s Cottage

  1. I was excited to read this book but thats just me. I love books and it doesnt take much to get me excited but it does take a great story to have me fully enjoy the experience and this book provided that.
    I had read that the book was partly inspired by the differing views of Enid Blyton by her two daughters so i was interested enough to want to read the book.
    The story flicks between present day and the 1930′s and is easy to follow. It will keep you guessing and i found that no matter what i was doing i would be thinking about the story and trying to solve the mystery which at the end of the book the author asks that anyone that has read the book not spoil it by revealing the ending so i rpomise not to give any hints but will just say that it wasnt at all what i expected.
    The book takes you through the lifes of the present day Sadie and her daughter who have moved to Tasmaina after the breakdown of Sadies marriage and the death of her mother. They move into Poets cottage which was the the home that her Mother grew up in. Its Sadies interest in delving into her family history that introduces her to members of the community that could help her to solve a family mystery.
    I enjoyed reading this book and its certainly one that i would recommend.
    I loved how it kept me guessing.

  2. Review of Poet’s Cottage by Josephine Pennicott

    A picturesque town in North West Tasmania is the setting for this intriguing novel about families, memory and mystery.
    Sadie moves to Poet’s Cottage with her daughter after the death of her mother and the break up of her marriage. She sees this as the perfect opportunity to write a book about her grandmother, Pearl Tatlow, who was viciously murdered in the cottage’s cellar in the 1930s. Her killer was never found.
    Pearl scandalised the small community with her bohemian lifestyle, her outrageous behaviour and her love affairs. Everyone has a different view of Pearl. Sadie’s mother Marguerite adored her. Thomasina. Sadie’s aunt, rembers her as abusive and obsessive. Birdie, her biographer, has a more ambivalent view being both attracted and repulsed by Pearl’s lifestyle and behaviour.
    Much of the book is set in the 1930s and told through Birdie’s eyes and these are the parts of the book that worked best for me.
    Though I thoroughly enjoyed the book it is not without its flaws. There are too many little sub plots and minor characters in the parts of the book that are set in the present that add nothing to the story such Gary the philandering dentist and Gracie the Canadian who is buying up local property. The character of Maxwell, Pearl’s husband, is not fully developed and I would have liked more on Marguerite’s view of her mother.
    The final resolution and the motivation for Pearl’s murder I found unsatisfying and unconvincing.

  3. I really enjoyed this book. I was very excited to read it but I have to admit that it was not what I was expecting either. But sometimes that is the greatest gift of all, when you read a book and you are surprised by what’s inside. See, it really is true, NEVER judge a book by it’s cover!

    I loved the setting and the feel of the book. I loved being transported back to the 1930’s and getting a glimpse of that time. I have read many books that are set in the past and I have found them difficult to read. But this was not difficult at all. There is nothing worse than when reading a book feels like a chore and this did not feel like a chore at all. I felt it was intriguing and I wanted to keep reading more and more. And that to me, is what makes a great book!

  4. When I saw the description of this book and the sentence that it was partially inspired by Enid Blyton’s two daughters, well that had me most interested and very intrigued to read Poet’s Cottage. I started reading the day I received the book.

    Poet’s Cottage is a beautiful house in Pencubitt, a fictional fishing village in Tasmania. Sadie’s beloved mother and aunt grew up there with their father and mother who was a famous children’s writer but she lived a provocative lifestyle which was frowned upon by others in the closeknit village. Pearl was murdered in the cellar and the murder was never solved. Many of the characters were seen as suspects.

    Pearl had two daughters Thomasina who she was abusive and unkind to and Marguerite whom she treated more kindly. Sadie inherits Poet’s Cottage from her mother Marguerite after she dies and due to the earlier breakdown of her marriage she decides to move to Pencubitt to start a new chapter in her life with her own daughter.

    Sadie is also a writer herself and she grew up with only loving stories of her grandmother Pearl so she is hoping to also try and solve and unlock the mystery of Pearl’s death.

    Throughout the chapters of the book we switch from the present day to the past of the 1930s and this brings to us a pacy, great read that will certainly hold your attention from start to finish. We become familiar with a fabulous cast of characters that you can actually visualize and bond with.

    Poet’s Cottage has been beautifully written. I have never known a book to actually contain drama, romance, intrigue, adventure, passion, heartache, mystery, lies and murder and mischievous fun rolled into its pages. Poet’s Cottage was particularly a captivating story that was also haunting and completely absorbing.

    Poet’s Cottage is a book that I found hard to put down as I was captivated by every page.

  5. Poet’s Cottage was a wonderful read and beautifully written, I just couldn’t put the book down. Every page was a delight to read, I loved all the different emotions and the journey it took me on. This is a book I will be recommending to all my friends. Thank you.

  6. There are not many books that actually keep me guessing the whole way through but this book was a real sucess. It is beautifully written and contains so many elements that create an amazing book that it was a pleasure to read.

    My favourite books always have characters you become attached to, this book did not disappoint on that front at all. The interaction between the characters and the relationships that are formed are beautiful and you follow along and join in with them along with way on this journey.

    This book whilst wonderful for me to read was something that I could also pass on to my nana to read which is lovely that it can cover the generations and be enjoyed by all (she is halfway though and HOOKED).

  7. I can pretty much pick up any kind of book, doesn’t matter what genre or title, thick or thin. I usually will get into anything I pick up and then forget trying to communicate with me for the next few weeks as I am living in whatever world such book has taken me to. This fabulous book was no different, and I loved every page of it!

    Josephine has written such a captivating story that I cannot wait to feast my eye on her other books, as now I am thirsty for more or her thrilling tales!

    I am a sucker for books with covers I am drawn to and this one had me unable to wait and I begun to read it as soon as it came in the mail and I opened it to the first page…

    I adore history and marvelled being thrust back into the 1930’s and watching the story unfold in my mind as if I were there, watching.

    I didn’t have too much trouble keeping up with the two different centuries, but it did keep my mind busy and always thinking.

    I highly recommend this great Aussie novel and cannot wait to share it with my sister who regularly visits me and my “library” for something new to read. 🙂

    Thanks Beauty & Lace! xo

  8. Title: Poet’s Cottage
    Author: Josephine Pennicott
    ISBN: 978-7-7426-1089-4

    Poet’s Cottage is a mystery novel set in the fictitious Tasmanian fishing village of Pencubbit. The story centres on Sadie, grandaughter of the infamous Pearl Tatlow, as Sadie seeks to understand the mystery surrounding her grandmother’s death, as well as the apparently conflicting opinions of her when she was alive.

    I was excited about the opportunity to review this book – largely because of my fondness for Tasmania, but also because I love a good mystery! The mystery aspect of the book did not disappoint. In telling her story, Josephine Pennicott juxtaposes two time periods – the late 1930’s and the present day – in a manner that invokes the sights and sounds especially of those early days.

    The depiction of Tasmania, however, specifically the town of Pencubbit, is one of a town lost in time: it was sometimes difficult to imagine that anything had changed since the scandalous 1930’s during which Pearl Tatlow caused such an uproar in the quiet little fishing village. Perhaps this was the author’s intent: lending the book the feel of television series ‘Midsomer Murders’.

    Perhaps with the exception of Thomasina, I found most of the characters rather unlikeable. And yet, I think this is what drove me to continue reading: I really wanted to understand their behaviours and attitudes. Pearl was annoying for her cruelty, Violet and Maxwell for their tolerance of Pearl’s manipulativeness. The present day characters had their own irritating behaviours, especially Sadie and her subjugatng towards her ex-husband Jack, and Jack for being stupid enough to think it perfectly natural to bring his cooky new-age girlfriend to visit her! Thomasina, Pearl’s eldest daughter, was painted as a potentially unlikeable character, yet she had every reason to be unpleasant.

    In the end the character flaws became a little more understandable, and for that reason I am glad I persisted with the read.

    Unlike other reviewer’s, I did not ‘love’ this book. Nonetheless I would recommend it – as an easy read perfect for holiday situations when you need a break from anything too intellectual or complicated. It was very easy to resume reading after a couple of days, and the chapters were sufficiently engaging to want to keep reading when lounging about was the order of the day.
    If I were to provide a ‘star’ rating I would give Poet’s Cottage 3/5 – largely for its perfect suitability as a holiday read.

  9. I was so excited to receive this book. I found it difficult to get into at first, but once I was through the first few chapters I found myself enthralled in the story.

    I was interested in the history of it but found it jumped a bit to the different time periods which at times was a little confusing so I put the book down a few times.

    I liked the quirky older characters of Birdie and Thomasina, and could imagine them quite clearly in my mind. Pearl I was not too keen on she was very cruel and could not relate to her thinking and actions.

    I thought that Sadie was a good character but she did not hold my attention enough. I did end up enjoying the last few chapters as the demise of Pearl was explained and the events leading up to it. I thought it still was missing something. I would recommend this book to others but it just was not what I expected. I found myself wanting more.

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