On a trip to England several years ago, I visited the city of Bath, located in a region known as the Cotswolds. Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans, who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa. The ancient baths still stand today, and visitors can mingle in them while statues of Roman emperors on the roofline look down on their subjects. It’s a unique city, with distinctive limestone buildings, narrow alleyways, and much ado about Jane Austen, who once lived there.
I also learned the city of Bath was the starting point for the Cotswold Way, one of England’s many National Trails. Going from Bath to Chipping Camden, the Way’s one hundred and two mile walk (usually done over a week or two) provides an intimate look at quaint, historic towns along the route, plus a chance to experience the countryside close up. Walking this trail has become popular with tourists. Many tour companies are available to make it easy by providing guides, booking overnight arrangements, and delivering your bags each night to your inn. Or you can walk it on your own.
I fell in love with the idea of seeing the English countryside this way. It’s more than a walk. It’s a call to nature. A chance to step away from the modern world and disengage from all the distractions. The reward? Time to contemplate life, commune with Mother Nature, and maybe even make some new friends along the way.
Inspiration called during my trip. This historic location of Bath and the splendor of the English countryside found its way into fiction, playing a starring role in my April 2018 release, WILLOW’S WAY.
Imagine your life falling apart, but then you learn you’ve been left a house in the Cotswolds by family you never knew existed…
…And Willow’s story begins.
In writing Willow’s Way, the setting played a role in helping my heroine retrace her family roots. Walking the Cotswold Way alone, she grows and tests her endurance. And the more she delves into the past, the more clearly she sees herself, her future, and the way home.
If you ever find yourself across the pond, this region is a must see!
Willow Armstrong, the once-famous “Queen of Weight Loss” and president of Pound Busters, succumbed to stress eating after her divorce. Now the scandal of getting caught on camera binging on pizza, and the internet-wide mocking of her new curves, may destroy her career. Add in a business advisor who drained her finances, and Willow is out of options—until she learns she’s inherited a house in England’s most picturesque locale, The Cotswolds.
Willow’s trip across the pond to sell the property and salvage her company soon becomes its own adventure: the house, once owned by grandparents she never met, needs major work. Plus, single dad Owen Hughes, the estate’s resident groundskeeper and owner of a local tour outfit, isn’t thrilled about the idea of leaving . . . Yet as Willow proceeds with her plans, she’s sidetracked by surprising discoveries about her family’s history–and with Owen’s help, the area’s distinctive attractions. Soon, she’s even retracing her roots—and testing her endurance—amid the region’s natural beauty. And the more she delves into the past, the more clearly she sees herself, her future, and the way home . . .
Praise for Sharon Struth
“Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.” —Library Journal
“Struth is an author to watch!” —Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winner The Sweet Spot
“Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss. She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.” —Eye on Romance
“The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page.” —Fresh Fiction
At the center of Struth’s (Sweet Life, 2017, etc.) second Sweet Life novel is Willow Armstrong, a woman at a crossroad.
Willow is the founder of the Pound Busters weight-loss franchise (think of a more militant Weight Watchers). Her husband has ditched her and her longtime business adviser has embezzled her personal and company funds, and she falls off the dietary wagon. The “queen of weight loss” gets caught on camera shoving a slice of pizza into her mouth, and her place at the company she founded is in jeopardy. Salvation beckons when Willow goes through an envelope of her late mother’s things and discovers she has inherited a house in England’s Cotswold region. She travels there to escape her scandal, fix up and sell her ancestral home, and get back on her financial feet. Struth cleverly underscores the point that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. Willow is soon adopted by Owen Hughes, the caretaker of her new property; his young daughter, Jilly; and their dog, Henry, who live in a cottage on the grounds. Naturally she falls for Owen, and soon the people and places of the Cotswold have Willow questioning all that she formerly found important. Struth has created a likably human protagonist. She was the chubby girl denigrated by her ex-model mom and stepfather who found her own well-received method to reach the societal standard of beauty. But Struth shows how, despite fame and fortune, the old insecurities lingered: “Deep inside of her, though, lurked the same person. The one who let dark demons in the pantry lure her to comfort.” Through her leisurely narrative pace, Struth allows the people and places of rural England to work their magic on the uptight Willow.
Another impressive entry in this series featuring strong women in transition.