Sigh. I have always always loved New England, The East Coast – the magical draw of the watery landscape, its cookie cutter seaside charm and rich history. This time last year I was there – being chased up to the tip of a storm smouldered Cape Cod by Hurricane Irene – seeing the Cape in all its natural raw glory and then a glorious glittering calm after the storm.

This year I am yearning for it all the more. There is something in the air that is bringing the charm of the East Coast into general consciousness.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

I recently went to see the new Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom set in an idyllic and nostalgia hued 1960′s New England island. The shingled and slatted coastal houses, rocky coves and summer camp aesthetic had me doe eyed and whimsy!

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

On the other scale – tapping into the glamour of the East Coast – Ricky Lauren [wife of Ralph] has just released what is sure to be a glorious book – The Hamptons, Food, Family and History. Combining food with her memories of raising a family in New York’s legendary Hamptons, the book captures the lifestyle—plus the rich history—of America’s most exclusive resort. The evocative book is packed with delicious recipes, beautiful photographs, and original watercolors that paint a picture of life in the Hamptons.

The Hamptons

The Hamptons

To sate my yearnings I like to look at design that might bring a little New England style into my home. The biggest thing on my design wishlist is this beautiful powder blue Shaker style kitchen from bespoke kitchen co Plain English. I can only imagine having a kitchen this dreamy!

PlainEnglish

Lotions, potions and scents from natural beauty brand Cold Spring Apothocary in NY. I love the simple vintage packaging, and beautiful amber glass bottles and tops wound in twine with wonderfully evocative ingredients Cedar, Black Pepper, Clove and Lavender.

ColdSpring

ColdSpring

ColdSpringApothecary

Finally these super cute colour blocked chopping boards from Anthropologie have a fresh Cape boatyard look about them.

Lostine

fever-tree

I’ve been so busy of late I have barely had time to indulge in my favourite pastime of reading. I find when I get to this stage where I haven’t read for a while I procrastinate even more by being overly picky with  the choice of the first one to break my book drought. I mean I have multiple unread books on my shelf but it’s that “i don’t have a thing to wear” syndrome . It needs to be the one to get me back into the swing of things.

A few months ago I was invited to the Penguin Bloggers Night where a group of us were treated to excerpts from a sparkling array of new reads by new authors and old. I left the evening happy but book-less as the press team had run out of take home book bundles from the night’s reads. One particular haunting reading from Jennifer McVeigh’s book The Fever Tree has since kept niggling at my subconscious – so I guess it was always going to be the one to break my dry spell.

The Fever Tree is set in the 1880s and takes us from the ordered existence of Victorian London sitting rooms to the South African frontier at the height of the diamond rush.

The novel centres around Frances Irvine a young and impressionable young girl who is left without means on the sudden death of a bankrupt father. Shunned by remaining family Francis’ only choice is to embark on a voyage to the Cape to marry a distant cousin, Edwin, now a doctor working in the Kimberley diamond fields. On the voyage out, Frances is recklessly swept up in a passionate and illicit love affair and she dreams that she has found an alternative to her loveless future with Edwin. Instead she is forced to travel deep into the desert to meet her fiancé, who is fighting to contain a smallpox epidemic.

Frances is met with a basic and rustic home in the harsh climate of the barren Karoo desert, strange animals on her doorstep and a difficult daily life as the realities of being a doctors wife in 18th century South Africa sets in. Along with Francis we are witness to the dangerous politics of the diamond industry, the greed of those in positions of power and the appalling ways in which native workers were abused and exploited. She finds her marriage to Edwin difficult in many ways, and yearns for the easy life that her lover on the voyage could provide her.

Adding more depth to the novel was that it was infact inspired by a 19th-century diary McVeigh found in the British Library written by a young doctor fighting to expose a cover-up by Cecil Rhodes over a smallpox epidemic in South Africa. McVeigh has taken this little-known aspect of British colonial history as the background for a historical saga set around the diamond mines of Kimberley.

Accustomed to historical novels as I am – the dark beauty of South Africa and the struggles and rewards of Francis and Edwin’s lives, the bravery of their neighbours setting up new lives in an inhospitable land and those who risked everything for the promise of wealth – left an indelible mark on my week.

Buy it, you will love it.

RRP: £12.99
Publisher: Penguin UK

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