Elderberry Croft is a series of short stories to warm the heart. A few paragraphs in and I was engrossed. Reading it was akin to being marvelled at the changing of seasons like those books which are good companions to a mug of cider on a winter day or chilled lemonade on deep summer as you settle in a cosy corner.
The collection breaks down in monthly chapters with romantic titles; such as February Embers, May Enchantments, September Longing. It all began when a mysterious girl moves into an empty cottage at The Coach House Trailer Park and christens it Elderberry Croft. The tenants of the park, who think the park is the last stop on the road and idly while away their days in seclusion, merely gave her a few weeks to move away. But as the new girl, Willow, starts charming her neighbours and breathes certain vigour in each of their lives, her enigma unravels as well and they all journey together towards hope and healing.
Elderberry Croft was a wonderful read filled with inspiration and light-heartedness dashed with real poignancy. It is one of those books that are meant to be savoured and not hurriedly read. Though it gets a little predictable as each succeeding story is revealed and the balance of revelation between the neighbours and Willow is somewhat impartial at one point, the sense of renewal and felicity overrides most of it. You cannot help but root for these tortured souls and give them something to live forward to. Oh, and you cannot help but wish to live in the charming Elderberry Croft, with its profusion of garden and twinkling lights and colourful throws, and have Willow as your friend, too!
The Coach House Trailer Park is the last stop down the road of life for most of its residents. But a new girl sweeps into the neighborhood, charming them all with her wild nature, her elderberry gifts, and her outrageous laughter. What brings the mysterious Willow Goodhope of Elderberry Croft to this dead end place? From what--or whom--is she hiding?
A collection of twelve short stories, Elderberry Croft is the tale of one woman's journey toward hope, and the people whose lives she transforms along the way.
FEBRUARY EMBERS: Richard and Patti Davis' days stretch out endlessly before them, but lately, Richard has taken notice of the new neighbor in Space #12. Will Patti lose the only man she’s ever loved to the green-eyed earth girl? Or will Willow steal both their hearts?
MARCH WHISPERS: Joe Sanderson believes that living simply is simply better living. He gardens, he cooks, he entertains Vivian. Everything is going just fine...then along comes Ms. Willow, with her whispering shadows and her elderberry pie, reminding him of what it means to be a man.
APRIL SHADOWS: The Cat Lady rarely sets foot outside her trailer during the light of day. But one morning, Willow shows up at her door, knocking her perfectly-ordered world off its axis. And when the stillness is further interrupted by the Shadowman, Shelly must confront her past in order to embrace her future.
MAY ENCHANTMENT: Managing The Coach House keeps Eddie busy, if not exactly fulfilled. But the new girl, with her red hair and crazy laugh, is stirring up the neighborhood. Willow's making waves, and Eddie's a little swept off his feet, too. When he comes face to face with the Shadowman in the middle of the night, Eddie questions everything he thought he knew about himself.
JUNE MELODY: Myra believes her doctor when he says she’s going to die, but when she encounters a deadly rattlesnake, she realizes that maybe she needs to start living again, rather than spending her last years sitting around waiting to die.
JULY MADNESS: Donny Banks is trouble with a big T. Edith keeps hoping if she helps her baby out one more time, he’ll get his head on straight. But big brother Eddie has had enough. This time, Donny’s knocking on the wrong door—one that belongs to Willow—and Eddie's having none of it.
AUGUST MEMORIES: Al's job keeps him busy during the day, and his Bud keeps him company at night. But Al is a prisoner of his past, and when one phone call changes his future, Al must choose to do the right thing. To his surprise, Willow Goodhope may just hold the key that will set him free.
SEPTEMBER LONGING: Prudence loves animal prints, big hair, and red nails. She also loves her man, Carney, but is beginning to wonder if he feels the same about her. When Willow Goodhope shows up needing a friend, Prudence gets the chance to reevaluate what’s important when it comes to matters of the heart.
OCTOBER MOURNING: The baby growing in Andrea's womb is a miracle, and she marvels at the way she’s changing from the inside out. But when faced with the knowledge that she can no longer manage on her own, will her pride allow her to receive help from Willow?
NOVEMBER AWAKENING: A Vietnam Vet, Doc suffers from severe post-traumatic stress, debilitating episodes that send him back to the bottle time and time again. When he discovers Willow on the verge of giving in to her own despair, he finds unexpected solace in stepping outside his comfort zone to comfort her.
DECEMBER DAWNING: It’s been almost a year since Willow moved into Elderberry Croft, and she can no longer ignore the shadows that drove her here. Is there hope for a new tomorrow?
Title: Elderberry Croft: The Complete Collection
Author: Becky Doughty
Genre: Contemporary, Women Fiction
Published: January 2014
Publisher: Aspendawn Books, Bravehearts Press
Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨ (5 cups - A lovely collection of short stories to warm the heart).