“From Shetland, With Love” by Erin Green | Book Review

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Synopsis: After the loss of her beloved grandfather, 28-year-old Jemima Button is unexpectedly handed the keys to his allotment plot. She doesn’t share his enthusiasm for gardening but can’t follow through when the time comes to give it up. Now she has five chickens and a garden to care for, and her amateur mistakes are catching unsolicited criticism.

After ages of being a name on a waiting list, 42-year-old Melissa Robins finally has an allotment plot to call her own. She dives right in, eager to be creative and take her mind off her husband who is working away from home. When loneliness pushes her into a close friendship with a fellow allotmenter, tongues start wagging, and her reputation takes a nosedive.

Despite her age, 80-year-old Dorothy “Dottie” Nesbit maintains a three-days-a-week dusting routine at Lerwick Manor, a job that dates back to her parents. She also grows prize-winning delphiniums and serves as secretary on the allotment association committee. Becase of her unofficial title as local matriarch, her eyes and ears are everywhere, and she is not afraid to get involved and give an opinion.

These three women lead very different lives, but now find themselves neighbors at the Lerwick Manor Allotment Association. Together they will face the barrage of drama that is a typical day at the allotment plot. Will they weather the storm, or is one of them on her way out?

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I started this book at a sluggish pace thanks to pages of drawn out description. For example, the section that describes Jemima Button’s first visit as plot owner to the Lerwick Manor Allotment Association: she enters the gate, notices the more unique gardens while following the figure eight pathway, & arrives at her destination six pages later. The detail about her grandparents’ front door is lovely, how after generations of memories it now decorates the plot which is passing from Thomas Quinn to his granddaughter. Some of the description adds to the story, but there could’ve been more editing to remove the pages of tedium, especially in the first half of the book.

Initially Melissa’s point-of-view interested me the most because I liked her personality, but by the end I found her attitude off-putting. I know gossip is an ugly thing, but she could’ve handled herself better. When you choose to spend time alone with a handsome, single man while your husband’s away for work, don’t be shocked when your small, tight-knit community starts to talk. To balance things out, I did appreciate her genuine care for Jemima as they became friends. Dottie is likeable but experiences very little development. She’s more of a bridge between characters and storylines. I enjoyed the Sassy Dottie moments; they added some spice to her character. Her POV lands in the middle which leaves Jemima, my favorite. I found her personal journey relatable, and her potential romance is what truly kept me invested in the book. The pace of her story picked up too quickly in the final chapters, but I like where people, places, and things ended up so I’m not too upset about it.

I now want chickens and an allotment plot, specifically on Shetland, so I think Erin Green did her job. However, I’m lowering my rating because of lengthy descriptions and slow pace, giving “From Shetland With Love” three stars. Don’t expect fireworks-level excitement because this book is exactly what the cover sets it up to be, a slice of life story centered around allotment plot owners and their day-to-day issues. If you like to sit outside in the sunshine and read to unwind, this might be the book for you; if you enjoy gardening, even better!

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Fun Fact: Thomas Quinn named his chickens Tonight, Madras, Korma, Roast, and Nugget (or possibly Kiev); all of them are affectionately known as “his ladies.” As a tribute, Jemima named her duck Crispy. I felt you should know all that because it tickled me throughout the entire book.

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⚠️ Content Warnings

Alcohol & Drugs

Mentions of alcohol & drinking – Pages 3, 12, 34, 57, 85, 90, 93, 94, 105, 106, 107, 121, 244, 245, 247, 264, 290, 325, 326, 327, 328, 331, 336, 337, 338, 339, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 349, 350, 351, 356, 359, 358, 360, 361, 368, 369, 376, 377, & 378

Mentions of drugs & smoking – Pages 106, 109, 121, 159, 223, 245, 290, 298, & 360

Grammar & Spelling

Page 22 – “Gazelle on heat” instead of “Gazelle in heat”

Page 57 – “ . . . ask Levi” instead of “ . . . asks Levi”

Page 62 – “ . . . there is defies logic” instead of “ . . . there defies logic”

Page 85 – Smoother those in gravy” instead of “Smother those in gravy”

Page 129 – “I found large two pumpkins” instead of “I found two large pumpkins”

Page 184 – “Dotty” instead of “Dottie,” not sure if this was intentional or not

Language

A$$ or Ar$e – Pages 71, 125, 201, 327, 331, & 353

Balls Up or Ballsing it up – Pages 54 & 57 

Bastards – Page 335

Bloody or Bloody H*ll- Pages 11, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 54, 59, 64, 68, 69, 72, 73, 116, 117, 118, 137, 161, 170, 171, 177, 187, 195, 196, 206, 216, 229, 255, 260, 261, 289, 293, 300, 322, 331, 335, 345, 355, 364, & 365

Bugger(s) or Buggered off – Pages 11, 51, 54, 55, 72, 85, 91, 182, 183, 205, 217, 274, 289, 299, 306, 307, 323, 327, 328, & 360

Cheeky Sod – Page 194

Chr*st – Page 364

D*mn, D*mn it, or D*mned – Pages 22, 59, 80, 157, 197, 256, 309, & 375

For F*ck’s Sake – Page 355

Git – Pages 181 & 337

H*ll – Pages 29, 59, 67, 72, 172, 195, 247, 261, 273, 280, & 364

Go to H*ll – Page 241

Haven’t a Hope in H*ll – Page 194

What, Where, or Who the H*ll – Pages 94, 101, 104, 117, 125, 167, 202, 204, 218, 224, 264, 270, 286, 304, 315, 320, 335, 347, & 354

L*rd Knows – Page 250

My G*d – Page 70

Piss-Taking – Page 195

Pissing Me Off – Page 54

Pull His Finger Out – Page 203

Shagathon – Page 241

Shagging – Page 237

Sh*t – Pages 37 & 47

Sh*te – Page 61

Sh*tty – Page 61

Sodding – Pages 22, 73, 121, 169, 172, 206, 212, 241, 242, 243, 335, 344, & 365

Taking the Piss – Page 5

Tits up – Page 180

Tiny as or Tinier than a newborn’s winky – Pages 33 & 301

Sensual/Sexual Moments

*DISCLAIMER: In order to be thorough, there are moments that will be spoiled in this section of my review.

SPOILERS INCOMING

Page 104 – Melissa feels attraction to Levi, a man who is not her husband

Page 169 – It’s implied that Melissa doesn’t want to mention Levi’s name to her husband

Pages 171 to 173 – Melissa hugs Levi & cries on his shoulder after a tense FaceTime conversation with her husband

Pages 190 to 195 – Melissa spends the day with Levi alone, having conflicting thoughts about her marriage. Aside from being alone together in a car on a day-long roadtrip, nothing inappropriate happens.

Page 206 – Melissa & Mungo are tangled up on the floor of The Veggie Rack covered in Jemima’s pumkin chutney which has exploded. Dottie walks in on them & assumes something else is happening. Melissa humorously describes the scene as looking like a “kinky sex session with a fetish for orange lube.”

Page 231 – Jemima describes Ned’s strong jawline & cleft chin as sexy, feeling nervous flutters as he’s buttoning up a coat she’s borrowing from him

Pages 236 to 238 – Jemima lets Melissa know the allotmenters are gossiping about her & Levi’s possible affair, & the latter exclaims “You wanted to be the one to blow the story wide open, and then you can confirm that we’re shagging like rabbits in the potting shed!”

Pages 240 to 241 – Melissa contemplates the affair rumours flying around & the silly idea that she’s “conducting a full-blown knocking shop.” She glances around her small potting shed & remarks “ . . . there’s hardly enough room to stash a folded deckchair, let alone perform some sordid affair or energetic sexual gymnastics! There’s a sodding window, for God’s sake! Someone must think I’m a right exhibitionist if this is my place of choice for frolicking.”

Page 241 – While conversing with Jemima, Melissa exclaims “Seriously, don’t you? Don’t you believe me and Levi are arranging sordid shagathons in here . . . me propped up on the rickety workbench over there and him squashed in between the sodding window and my new paraffin heaters!” Jemima humourously responds “I can just imagine it, though I suggest you focus a little more on comfort and ambience: a few candles and a swathe of rich fabric might enhance the boudoir effect for both of you.”

Page 242 – Levi tells Melissa the allotmenters are gossiping about Jemima & Ned possibly sleeping together

Pages 245 to 247 – While in The Cabbage Patch, Melissa takes the opportunity to tell off the allotmenters who are present, setting the record straight that she & Levi have never kissed or slept together.

Pages 262 to 264 – Melissa scolds Levi for not backing up her outburst in The Cabbage Patch, exclaiming “We aren’t a couple. We’re not having an affair or getting jiggy in my potting shed!” Levi criticies her husband’s disinterest in her needs & wants & implies he wants more in their relationship.

Page 335 – Dottie describes Natalia as “a real-life stunner exuding sex appeal and class”

Pages 344 to 347 – Levi and Melissa have a serious conversation in front of people at the festival before slipping away to a private corner and kissing. The chapter ends suggestively with both agreeing to meet back at Levi’s place.

Pages 348 to 349 – Melissa’s husband Hamish shows up at the festival to surprise her. While helping him look for his wife, Dottie spots Levi and Melissa gleefully leaving the manor together. Hamish doesn’t mention seeing them, but it’s implied that he did.

Page 351 – Jemima walks in on Natalia sitting on Ned’s desk and describes her skimpy attire.

Pages 356 to 358 – Dottie warns Melissa about Hamish being at the festival, and she goes straight home, kissing and making up with him.

Pages 366 to 367 – Jemima and Ned share their first kiss in the Lerwick Manor garden during the sweetest, most romantic moment in the whole book.

Page 378 – Jemima and Ned kiss again.

Trigger Warnings

Anxiety – Jemima’s struggles with anxiety are mentioned throughout the book. The worst & most described panic attack takes place on pages 353 to 355.

Infertility & Death/Loss – Jemima is dealing with the recent loss of her grandfather Thomas. There are also mentions of how she coped when her mother died of cancer.  There is a brief mention of Ned’s parents struggling to have a child as well as their untimely deaths from cancer. On pages 306 to 310, Dottie and Melissa find Bill who has died while sitting on his allotment plot bench; his body is removed from the property by an undertaker.

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