Monday, September 16, 2013

The Olde Rectory by Julia Helene Ibbotson *Review

Title: The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen
Author: Julia Helene Ibbotson
Paperback: 128 pp.
Publisher: New Generation Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1909593753
ISBN-13: 978-1909593756

Author Julia Ibbotson and her husband glimpsed the old Victorian rectory on a cold January day. It was in dire need of renovation, in the midst of the English moorlands and a mile from the nearest village, but they determined to embark on a new life in the country, to make the sad neglected house glow again and to settle into the life of the small traditional village. As Julia researches the history of the house and village, supervises the renovations and cooks for family and friends, she records their journey. This real-life, award-winning account focuses on the quest to “live the dream” and, in the end, to find what is important in life. As the book foregrounds the centrality of the kitchen as the pulse of the family and home, each chapter ends with delicious but easy recipes, both current favourites and those from the historic period unfolding within the chapter: Victorian, Edwardian, wartime and present day. Reviewers have been fulsome in their praise, including “ enchanting”, “a talented writer”, “charming story”, “delightful”, “a jewel”, “ a great writer”, “inspirational”, “truly engaging”, and  “destined to become a classic”.

My Thoughts:

I loved the visual imagery that Julia gave for the Rectory. Without photos it would be very hard to picture in ones eye the look of the Rectory as they saw it for the first time and including all of the renovations. And of course the surrounding area complete with roaming roosters! The only thing that would make this book better would be photographs, but I know that is so costly in a book. I looked on her website and FB page and couldn't find any immediately. I think that would be a great asset for readers of the book.
I just found out there are a few photos on Julia's pinterest site HERE
The recipes sounded amazing! I don't think I could make most of them as they were unique and gourmet, something my family would frown on.... but if it is ever hubby and I, we may need to try our hand at some of these wonderful recipes.  The recipes really added to the feel of the story, the country kitchen aspect of the rectory. I want to come and visit and peer in all of the corners of the house!
Julia really was able to draw you into the warmth of her kitchen and the charm of her home! Fantastic job.

Julia Ibbotson is the award-winning author of The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, first published to acclaim in the USA and now re-launched with a brand-new cover by her new English publisher in the UK. Julia has been writing creatively all her life (unpublished!) but her day jobs to pay the mortgage have been as a school teacher and latterly a university academic, gaining her PhD at the age of 57. She delights in being a wife and mother to four, with four little grandchildren. She loves reading, gardening, growing food, cooking for family and friends and country life. Having published many academic texts and papers, she came late to actually publishing her creative writing, at the age of 60 plus, when she was persuaded to write the story of the renovation of her Victorian rectory in The Old Rectory. She has combined memoir, history, research, story and recipes in this first published book, which has won a number of international book festivals in the biography category, gained 5 star reviews on Amazon, and has been widely featured (along with her house) in the media. She has begun to delve into the world of blogging, facebook and now has her own website at  at which she also posts blogs regularly, about writing, life and her passions. Her new project is a trilogy of novels following the life story of a new character, Jess, through from fleeing to West Africa as a volunteer teacher/nurse in the 1960s to the millennium. The first of the series, Drumbeats, is due to be published later this year. You can find out more on her website and on her author page on Amazon.

 Check out her Facebook page HERE

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  1. This sounds like a great tale of a real life history of an old rectory. I would like to read it. I do agree with Melanie that pictures are always good in true stories, and am disappointed that none were included!

  2. Thanks for the wonderful review, Melanie! I'll have to get in touch with Julia and suggest her add photos of the experience on her blog, wonderful idea!

  3. Hi Melanie, thanks for hosting me today and for the lovely review! If you go to my website at and click on the link to The Spirited Woman guest blogs you will find photos of the rectory! Also on my facebook page in "photos"! Also in the book, my daughter provided line drawings of the rectory in the book at the front and also at the head of each chapter - did you see these? Enjoy looking!

  4. Oh - another thought - also on my pinterest site under "The Old Rectory"!

  5. Julia I am wondering if your FB page photos are set to private as I can not see any other than your profile and cover photos and there are none of the rectory.