Noelle took a few steps back to sit on the couch, to wish herself into the painting. To those summers spent in England, where everything remained safe, intact.
Not that she didn’t appreciate her life now. But lately, she’d become…stilted. An unfulfilling job, a stagnant social life, where she only played a role of herself, a pretend version. But those precious English summers centered her, brought out her genuine self. And she craved that again more than ever.
(from Painting the Moon)
Quick Summary: Painting the Moon is the first novel in a series by Traci Borum set in the village of Chilton Crosse in the Cotswolds. Noelle Cooke returns to England after 14 years when she learns that her Great Aunt Joy has died, leaving her a cottage and an art gallery in Chilton Crosse. She plans to take care of her aunt’s affairs and return to her job in San Diego, but she discovers a locked room in the cottage and her aunt’s journal, revealing a history of secrets and betrayal. Noelle also finds other reasons to stay, including Adam, whom she loved as a teenager. But it’s possible that the magic of those early summers in England cannot be recaptured, and digging into her aunt’s past and the reason she cut herself off from the rest of the world in the last years of her life may be too much for Noelle to bear.
Why I wanted to read it: I wanted to escape to the Cotswolds and life in a small village, if only in the pages of a novel!
What I liked: I was swept up into Noelle’s story right away. Borum does a great job portraying life in a small town, where everyone knows everyone and is like family. Noelle seems to have been drifting since losing her mother and grandmother and losing touch with her aunt, but staying at her aunt’s cottage, forging a friendship with her aunt’s gardener, Mac, rekindling her friendships with Adam and Jillian, and trying to find a way to save her aunt’s art gallery put her on the path to making herself whole again. Borum enables readers to get to know Joy through her journal and her paintings and to see Noelle evolve as she puts all the pieces together, rediscovering her artistic soul. Her relationship with Adam is important to the story, of course, but I liked that there was more to this novel than that.
What I disliked: It was hard for me to believe that Noelle would take so long to read through her aunt’s journal, especially since none of the entries seemed long and there was a mystery for her to uncover. Too many years have passed and too many questions have been left unanswered, so if I had been in Noelle’s shoes, it would have been impossible for me to wait that long. Maybe a single read-through wouldn’t provide all the answers, but I definitely couldn’t read it one entry at a time.
Final thoughts: Painting the Moon is a solid start to the series, with an intriguing mystery, beautiful descriptions of the artistic process, endearing villagers, the sadness and regret of a romance that never had a chance to blossom, and the hope and freedom that comes from finding oneself. Borum has created a village readers will want to return to and characters they will want to revisit, and I can’t wait to read more.
Disclosure: I received Painting the Moon from the author for review.
© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.