Little Woodford by Catherine Jones

Little Woodford has a sleepy high street, a weekly market, a weathered old stone church and lovingly tended allotments. A peaceful, unexciting place, the very heart of middle England.

In Little Woodford no one has fingers in more pies than Olivia Laithwaite, parish councillor, chair of the local WI, wife, mother and all round queen bee. So of course it’s Olivia who is first to spot that The Beeches has been sold at last.

Soon rumours begin to swirl around the young widow who has bought this lovely house. Why exactly did she leave London with her beautiful stepdaughter and young sons? Are they running from someone? Hiding something? Though if they are, they won’t be the only ones. Sometimes the arrival of newcomers in a community is all it takes to light a fuse…


What a pleasure to read this book. I was very grateful to be invited to be part of the blog tour.

Like all small towns, things are not always as they seem. Even those with seemingly perfect lives, like Olivia, have their problems.

The characters are what makes this book so readable. Olivia is the person involved in everything, the WI, the local council, and everyone’s business. She is a bit of a snob, but has a heart of gold, and the best interests of the town and her family at heart. Amy cleans various houses in the town and is a bit of a gossip. Heather is the vicar’s wife, kind and caring. Bex arrives into this host of characters, and everyone is curious about the person who has bought the big house that had been been empty for so long. As Bex’s story unfolds, we learn a bit more about what brought her to Little Woodford.

I really enjoyed this lovely well-paced, readable book. It took me quite a while to read as I savoured it, not wanting it to end.

Very enjoyable, I hope we’ll hear more about Little Woodford in the future, I’d love if there was a series.



Catherine Jones lives in Thame, where she is an independent Councillor. She is the author of eighteen novels, including the Soldiers’ Wives series, which she wrote under the pseudonym Fiona Field.


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My town is partly the reason I came to write Little Woodford – it’s the sort of place where if you live and work in it, it is quite difficult not to get involved. Besides, I like being involved (partly because I’m nosy and want to know what’s going on) but also I’ve always found that the more you put into things the more you get out. So when, a couple of years ago, I got asked to stand for election to the town council, I couldn’t resist. And now I’m on the council – and even more involved with the town – I understand that, like anywhere, if you look behind the chocolate-box exterior, people have the same problems as they do everywhere else, they just happen to live in a pretty place. Which made me want to write about what goes on behind other people’s front doors, what problems they might have to cope with. (I told you I was nosy.)
I decided the best way to find out what was going on was to create a character who had a legitimate excuse to be in and out of lots of people’s homes and see for herself what was what. Enter Amy – a cleaner. She is one of my favourite characters I have ever made up, mostly because she’s naughty. She also says the sort of things I’d sometimes love to say but never dare. It’s very liberating writing about people like that. Then I needed to populate the town with the usual suspects, the vicar, the doctor and the town councillor (!) etc and their families, and give the place the things almost all towns have, allotments, a school, the local pub and so on. Oh, and I needed a new-comer, Bex, who would look at this little town and its inhabitants with fresh eyes. It was such fun creating this place. Of course my neighbours now ask me if they’ll recognise anyone. I sincerely hope not! Although I hope people recognise the types: Amy – who couldn’t keep a secret if her life depended on it, Olivia – the bossy-boots, Belinda – the listener, Heather – kindness personified….
But most of all I hope that everyone enjoys the world I’ve created in Little Woodford because I have enjoyed writing about it so much.


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