{New Memoir/Autobiography for Review} The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen by Julia Helen Ibbotson

The Old Rectory Julia Helene Ibbotson will be touring September 2 – 27 with her new memoir/autobiography, The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen. We are looking for reviews (paperbacks and PDFs are available), interviews, guest post spots, first chapter reveals and book excerpt/spotlights.

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”.


Winter: A Country Dream

Lamb Shanks Braised in Mint Gravy

Hot Oranges in Vanilla Caramel Syrup

Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Pud

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

We first saw the rectory on a cold day at the end of January. Our car bumped down the rough, broken drive, a long-overgrown farm track. On either side of the track, wild branches shook themselves angrily in the wind that howled around the car. It was a bitter Sunday afternoon, and the old beech trees along the side of the cracked and patched tarmac stood resolutely against the grey sky. Even the birds had fallen silent, the only sounds those of branches snapping under the car tyres and stones flirting from the wheels.

At last, we saw it in front of us, emerging from the tall trees that surrounded it: the house, white with black timbers, seeming to shiver before us at the end of the farm track. It had a desolate but imposing beauty, and it stood proudly behind its big iron gate, a wide and sweeping gravel drive before its pitched roofed porch and white front door. The trees that surrounded it were stark and brittle, like witches’ fingers laced cruelly with the hoar frost of winter, a vision before us as our car jarred into potholes and rocks as we headed towards our appointment with the vendors.

My husband and I had already sold our current house, where we had lived for twelve years, in the expectation of being in the best position to find the place where we wanted to stay for the foreseeable future. A second marriage for both of us, we had four grown-up children between us who had flown the nest and were now (relatively) independent from us. At least, they were all living with husbands/partners away from home, two of the daughters with little children, our fabulous grandchildren, and we were free now as a couple to make decisions about where we wanted to live for the rest of our lives. We had always wanted a house with character and with land so that we could extend or make room for a decent-sized vegetable garden. Or, indeed, whatever we might fancy doing!

We had put our current big “family house” on the market before Christmas, knowing (we thought confidently) that nobody in England even started house-hunting until well after the New Year, maybe February at the earliest. But we would be ready for them. The form filling would be done, the estate agent and the solicitor briefed and ready to go.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go according to plan.

About the Author

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 www.juliaibbotson.com  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. Her global internet book tours start soon!

Contact Dorothy at thewriterslife (at) gmail.com if interested in hosting Julia. Thank you!