Coming Home to Winter Island by Jo Thomas
Publishing Date: 12th December 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 336
Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Women’s Fiction
Wrap up warm and prepare to explore the breath-taking beauty of a remote Scottish island and an old house waiting to unlock enchanting family secrets.
Fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson will love this irresistible new winter novel from Jo Thomas.
Do you need to find out where you’ve come from before you can know what the future holds?
Ruby’s singing career is on the verge of hitting the big time, when her voice breaks. Fearing her career is over, she signs up for a retreat in Tenerife to recover.
But an unexpected call from a stranger on a remote Scottish island takes her on a short trip to sort out some family business. It’s time to go and see the grandfather she’s never met.
City girl Ruby knows she will be happy to leave the windswept beaches behind as quickly as she can, especially as a years-old family rift means she knows she won’t be welcome at Teach Mhor.
But as she arrives at the big house overlooking the bay, she finds things are not as straightforward as she might have thought.
There’s an unexpected guest in the house and he’s not planning on going anywhere any time soon …
In “Coming Home to Winter Island” we are introduced to Ruby, who is about to get her big break in music business when her voice suddenly disappears. Having arranged a therapeutic break in Tenerife, she gets a mysterious phone call that changes her plans and finds her travelling to a remote Scottish Island to deal with some issues regarding Hector, the grandfather she has never met before. What is going to happen when you put yourself into a mix of remote island, an unknown grandfather, a sitting tenant that is set on disrupting your plans, and gin?
This novel was atmospheric, touching and also light – hearted. There were moments that I would have liked it to be more demanding because some things happened very conventionally and felt a bit too forced for my liking but still, it didn’t spoil the reading at all. I’m also not sure why but it felt a bit different to Jo’s previous books, I can’t put my finger on it, can’t explain why I felt like this, although of course this book had all the things that I was expecting from Thomas’s book. She has – again – easily transported me into characters’ worlds with the gorgeous descriptions and storylines.
The author touches upon many different issues, such like dementia, local community, family bonds to name only a few, and wonderfully ties them all together, creating a colourful, immersing story. There was never a single moment flat but also the story didn’t feel too full or overwhelming. The descriptions of the Island, and also of some of the past Christmases and all the memories added tons of feelings and emotions and were beautifully interwoven and written in a gentle, subtle way. And I loved the chase after the gin recipe, it was brilliant, I couldn’t wait to get to know all of the ingredients – I had my own favorite for the last ingredient, although it turned out that I was wrong. Oh well.
Ruby’s story was warm and uplifting. It was touching to see her getting to know her grandfather and learn about her family. She was the kind of character that you really quickly fell for, seeing how much she has to deal with, seeing her struggling between what she thinks would be best for a man that she truly doesn’t know, and her consciousness. Throughout the story Ruby grows so much, develops, reassesses her life and what it is she wants to do, and it includes also her relationship with a boyfriend who, to be honest, was awfully controlling and egoistic, seeing Ruby probably as a ticket to a better life and fortune. Then she’s confronted with a huge house that has for sure seen better days, grandfather with dementia and Lachlan, the sitting tenant who refuses to move out. The characters were really well developed, had depth to them and I kept everything crossed for them.
I so liked the interaction and banter between Ruby and Lachlan. They often don’t agree on things and butt heads but deep deep inside Hector’s safety is their main concern. Hector’s subplot was so moving, and as much as I understood Ruby, I was still surprised to see how much time it took her to realise what’s really good for him. The visit in the Home was really heart – breaking.
“Coming Home to Winter Island” was full of feel – good factor, brilliant characters, wonderful setting and full of surprises. Jo Thomas didn’t disappoint, delivering another book that feels like a warm hug and is going to be a perfect read for a wintry evening. Highly recommended!
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