Robbie MacIntyre manages a small post office in the old Station House on the outskirts of sleepy Barton Hartshourn northwest of London. He’s stunned when the owner, Maggie, a close friend, bequeaths him not only the post office, but also Station House.
The rest of her estate is left to an American writer, Jason Young, and when he moves to the village, Robbie is thrown by the attraction he has for the man who has more of a claim on the Station House than he does.
Then there is a box that holds several rare first editions and a cookbook. Only when the secrets of the ingredients in a particular recipe are finally revealed does everything begin to make sense, and a love cut short seventy years earlier is finally discovered
This story and the budding romance kind of wrap around you like a gentle summer rain. There’s nothing sudden or fierce about it – just a gradual light mist that eventually clears away a film of dust to reveal what’s hidden beneath. In this case, it’s about finding out how and why two unlikely paths have crossed; something that Robbie and Jason have in common.
Because the story is told from Robbie’s point of view, it’s easy to get a very good feel for his character. Jason, on the other hand, remains more of a mystery. We learn bits and pieces about him, but not a lot of detail. And then there’s Maggie – the lady who was, but really wasn’t, and still manages to steal the show. In some ways, this story felt more like the story of Maggie’s life with a little side of Robbie/Jason to spice things up.
The cookbook aspect of this story has to do with recipes passed down to Robbie. From the beginning of the story until the end, Robbie is trying to reproduce Maggie’s famous applesauce cake. Success seems to elude him, however, until he finds the key to unlock part of the mystery along with just the right combination of apples and motivation. The end result is a great mix of sweet and savory – I’m referring to the book vs. the cake, but I’m sure that’s good too!