Author: Melanie Hudson
The Wedding Cake Tree not only has us questioning if we ever really know someone, it also has us asking if we ever really know ourselves; until we are taken outside our comfort zone to experience new things and be exposed to new perspectives we can’t always know if we are missing something that would bring us total happiness.
Melanie Hudson’s debut takes leading lady Grace on a cross country journey through her mothers past to introduce her to the woman her mother was before her birth. Grace is a photographer in the city who doesn’t get home to Devon very often, not because she doesn’t get along with her mother but because she takes for granted that she will always be there.
Grace is taken by surprise when her mother passes away but it seems she was the only one. The will leaves Grace with a cross country journey, a pile of letters and a marine companion; most of which she is none too happy with but her mother knew her well and instructions to scatter part of her at significant sites along the way are the thing that convinces her to undertake the journey.
Hudson has written a heartfelt tale of mother and daughter getting to know one another much more intimately post humously. The more information Grace receives the less she feels she knows her mother and it sets her a little off balance. I can totally understand how that would be. None of us ever really imagine our parents pre-us, I guess it’s a selfish thing in all of us that makes it hard to imagine the world of those we love before we came into it. To an extent I think a lot of us think our parents have always been the same so it can be quite a shock to discover who they were before. Grace had an extremely happy childhood, she never wanted for anything and though she never knew her father she never really missed him.
Grace often reacted selfishly, thinking of things only from her perspective without taking into account how difficult these things were for her mother and at times this got irritating but it was understandable and I quite liked Grace.
Alasdair is her marine companion and he was chosen as the companion because he is on the brink of burn-out and needs the break, needs the time away from the job for a rest. He is quite a closed book of a character and doesn’t give away much. Most of the information we gain about him comes from Rosamund but we learn his character from his actions. He is quite a gentleman and he cares deeply; for the men under his command and anyone that comes into close enough contact for him to feel responsible for.
The romance is downplayed for the bulk of the story, you can feel it slowly building but never sure if it will ever flower. It was interesting to watch the attraction develop as they both fought it.
The characters were well drawn and though they were flawed they were easy to like. The locations were beautifully described and conjured the images in my head as I read. But what I loved the most was the evolution of the characters. Rosamund knew her daughter so well that when she planned this journey for her she made sure that it would open her eyes to new things, new perspectives and put her back in touch with her talents. A moving look at how drastically life can change. Quite an engaging debut that has me adding Melanie Hudson to my list of authors to watch.