The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves / Blog Tour

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

 

Publisher: Century 48669268._sy475_

Publishing Date: 2nd April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 17.09.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A lifetime together. Six months of silence. One last chance.

Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.

For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.

Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet.

But it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.

Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?

With characters that will capture your heart, THE SILENT TREATMENT celebrates the phenomenal power of love and the importance of leaving nothing unsaid.

Rating: four-stars

 

Frank and Maggie have been happily married for forty years, getting by all the bumps and twists that reality put in their way – and there were plenty of them. However, it seems that now they have hit a wall – Franks hasn’t spoken to Maggie for six months. Why? Maggie can’t take it anymore and one day Frank finds her slumped over the kitchen table after swallowing the contents of a bottle of sleeping tablets. He blames himself and is desperate to explain to Maggie why he hasn’t uttered one word to her in the last half year. Encouraged by a nurse at the hospital, Frank starts to speak – is there enough time for him to tell everything?

It is a beautifully written story, both plot – wise and writing style – wise. The narration flowed so naturally, it didn’t feel forced, it just felt so normal and human and the writing is almost lyrical, so very evocative and vivid it is. The author has a way with words, her narration is touching, poignant yet uplifting and flowing effortlessly, keeping you glued to the pages.

I would say that it is a very character driven story, and they all were really well written and developed, as well as the relationships and dynamics between them – and they were never the easiest ones. Their feelings and emotions were effortlessly brought to us on the pages.
Maggie and Frank’s voices are strong and distinctive. During Maggie’s stay at the hospital we learn everything about their life together, starting with the early days of their relationship and their struggle to have a child of their own. I have expected – probably like many of you reading the book – that they had a fight, that there must have been an understatement between them and this is why they live in silence, but the truth is much more shocking and heart – breaking. The story of them is unique, full of memories, anecdotes and thoughts and there emerges a picture of people committed to each other, loving each other and caring about each other.

I must admit that the epilogue confused me a bit – probably because the author has suddenly decided to use the third narrator, so out of the blue and only for the few pages of the epilogue. Somehow it didn’t sit with me so well, not sure why, but it didn’t fit the whole story.

The story explores marriage, parenting and more difficult issues in a gentle, understanding way, showing how hard it sometimes is to communicate with our closest ones and how secrets kept from each other may affect our relationships – but we still keep them, out of fear as we don’t want to hurt them, out of love.
It is a powerful and moving book, so very honestly touching upon many heavier issues, bringing the small family to life, creating them all believable and full of flaws. It is emotional, poignant and uplifting at the same time. It is a great debut novel and the author shows her strong voice – I am already looking forward to her next release. Highly recommended.

 

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The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 50652475._sy475_

Publishing Date: 23rd January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 25.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

As the wife of retired ship’s doctor Dr Henry Parker, Evelyn is living out her twilight years aboard the Golden Sunset. Every night she dresses for dinner and regales her fellow passengers with stories of a glamorous life travelling the world. The crew treat her with deference. And forbearance.

But when Henry goes missing, Evelyn sets off to search every part of the ocean liner to find him; misadventures are had – all new to Evelyn. If only she could remember the events of the night before as clearly as she can recall the first time she met Henry on a passage from England to Australia in 1953 and fell in love – abandoning her dreams to become a midwife to be a wife instead – and the long-ago painful events that left Evelyn all at sea.

Why is it so hard to remember some things and so hard to forget others? And where is Henry?

Rating: four-stars

 

Evelyn and her husband Henry have been living aboard the Golden Sunset ocean liner for years, with Henry a ship’s doctor. But now Henry is missing and Evelyn sets off to search for him in her new Finding Henry running shoes – she has no idea who has sent them but they are so comfortable! With no one on board seeming to realize that something has happened to Henry, Evelyn wanders around Golden Sunset with her handbag, ticking off places from her ship map. She also makes new friends, Nola and Frank, and she’s only too happy to tell them the story of her life – how she met Henry back in 1953 and share with them all the ups and downs of their lives together. But while she remembers some things clearly, as if they happened yesterday, many other present details escape her – why? Why is it so hard to remember some things but forget the others? And where is Henry?

This is a very character driven novel and the author has done a great job in giving Evelyn a distinctive voice, making her a special and unforgettable character. Evelyn’s life story was so incredibly compelling, genuine and filled with adventures, people, love, happiness and sadness. Evelyn often shares her knowledge with people, no matter if they’re interested or not, however Nola and Frank love to hear her memories. She loves the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the words of Florence Nightingale, who has inspired her to become a nurse. The author, even though Evelyn’s situations is so heart – breaking, often tells through a humorous narrative about her adventures (for example in the casino), and gives hope and light where there are so many challenges.

Evelyn was brilliant to read about though, I must admit, she made me feel desperate sometimes, as she was truly opinionated, stubborn and didn’t take advice easily. But she also had a heart in the right place. I was hooked by her colourful life and with her sharp life observations.

As for Henry. The disappearance of him gave the book a little element of mystery, and as we quickly learn that Evelyn is rather an unreliable narrator (apologies, Evelyn. I do love you) we really don’t know what to think. I had a few scenarios in mind, however my detective skills are non – existent and the author has taken me fully by surprise there. Which I loved.

I adored Evelyn’s memories, her telling us the tales of her life, beginning when she was only 21 years old. The present days, even if a bit more entertaining, also felt a little sad, as they showed us clearly Evelyn’s confused mind, and it made me personally sad, seeing her desperation to find Henry, using a map of the ship, crossing off places where she looked for him. It was truly heart – wrenching, to see her dedication and confusion.

Joanna Nell’s writing is warm and gentle and so full of feelings and emotions. She brings the ups and downs of ageing with empathy and humour and I love how she created Evelyn – a passionate, quirky person with quick – tempered nature who hasn’t felt sorry for herself making her full of courage and optimism despite the challenges she faces, navigating world that starts to feel strange and weird.

“The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker” is a book full of surprises. A story full of heart and emotions about love, loss, marriage that sensitively touches upon ageing, dementia, unconditional love and motherhood. It’s written with honesty, humanity and compassion.
It is a tender, sensitive story that, despite the often – confused Evelyn, is also incredibly heart – warming and uplifting. Highly recommended!

The River Home by Hannah Richell / Blog Tour

The River Home by Hannah Richell

 

Publisher: Orion 50262847._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under… The new novel from bestselling author Hannah Richell. A wise and emotionally powerful story of a broken family and the courage it takes to heal.

The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under…

‘It’s something she learned years ago – the hard way – and that she knows she will never forget: even the sweetest fruit will fall and rot into the earth, eventually. No matter how deep you bury the pain, the bones of it will rise up to haunt you … like the echoes of a summer’s night, like the river flowing relentlessly on its course.’

Margot Sorrell didn’t want to go home. She had spent all her adult life trying not to look behind. But a text from her sister Lucy brought her back to Somerset. ‘I need you.’

As Margot, Lucy and their eldest sister, Eve, reunite in the house they grew up in beside the river, the secrets they keep from each other, and from themselves, refuse to stay hidden. A wedding brings them together but long-simmering resentments threaten to tear the family apart. No one could imagine the way this gathering would change them all forever. And through the sorrow they are forced to confront, there is a chance that healing will also come. But only if the truth is told.

Rating:  four-stars

 

“The River Home” introduces us to three Sorrell sisters, Margot, Lucy and Eve – very different, partly estranged, but when Margot receives a message from Lucy begging her to come home as she needs her, she knows she has to return back to Windfalls. She hasn’t been back for years, as the heartbreak and pain and disappointment of the past is simply too huge. But can Lucy’s shotgun wedding fix everything? The estrangement from her mother Kit, the tension with her father, past mistakes? Margot is determined to do this, for Lucy. However, she is not the only sister keeping secrets, and now they refuse to stay hidden… Is it going to break the broken family even more?

“The River Home” is Hannah Richell’s fourth novel, however my first read by this author, and I must tell you that I am already under her spell – the writing is beautiful, atmospheric, almost lyrical yet chatty and accessible, and she has captured my attention with this heart – breaking and shocking story. The descriptions are vivid, bringing the setting and the characters to life.

The characters are really well rounded, full of flaws, getting into troubles, making wrong decisions, and they all feel human. Not likeable – they are so dynamic that you keep changing your mind about them, stop liking them, start to feel sympathy towards them – but simply human. The story is told through different points of view, and this truly helped to get into each of the characters’ heads and understand them and their actions. I can’t say that I had a favourite character, as all of them experienced/were experiencing events that were heart – breaking, the challenges they had to overcome were so unfair, and it was impossible not to fall for them and feel their emotions.
The three sisters couldn’t be more different, even if you asked for it. At first sight, Margot seems to be the main characters, although I think that it was Lucy later that started to deserve this title. Margot has tried to put her past so hard behind her but there are things she simply can’t forget, and her childhood home is for her a place of pain and bad memories. Seeing her, confronting the old memories and guessing what has really happened in the past was heart – breaking, and even though there were moments that I wanted to shake Margot so badly and tell her to stop acting like this, I also fell for her and felt so much sympathy to her.

The element of mystery, surrounding mostly Margot, worked really well in this book. Yes, I started to worry that it is taking a bit too long for it to be revealed, but all the other events and memories were intriguing enough to keep me patiently waiting. However, I do think that it slowed the pace of the story a little, but no worries guys, getting to know the whole background of the situation, and also characters’ past is great, and then all the actions start to really make sense.

The author writes so well about family dynamics, about all the ups and downs of those complex and complicated entities. She really well captured the relationship between the sisters, painting it strong and loving, but also the dynamics and changes of married life. She also touches upon parenthood, love, hate, betrayal, disappointment, loss, grief, guilt, teen angst with passion and understanding and emotional writing.

It’s a book about family dynamics and secrets that can break even the strongest family. It is emotional and even though you may guess the twists by yourself, it doesn’t spoil the reading, as the secrets come out slowly, keeping our attention, and the confrontations and accusations make the things even more complicated. It is actually unputdownable, as you are desperate to know what has happened and if you were right. It was a dark, atmospheric read with building tension. It was not the easiest read, as it truly touched upon many heavier issues, but the beauty of the writing has made the reading w wonderful experience. Truly recommended!

 

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A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley

A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley

 

Publisher: Orion 45844833

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Love, friendship and family come in all different shapes and sizes…

Gina has been going with the flow for years – she’d rather have an easy life than face any conflict. She runs her childminding business from her cottage at the edge of The Evergreens, a charming Victorian house and home to three octogenarians who have far too much fun for their age.

But when The Evergreens is put up for sale, Gina and the other residents face losing their home. To protect her business and save her elderly friends from eviction, Gina must make a stand and fight for the first time in her life.

As Gina’s ideas for saving The Evergreens get bigger and bolder, she starts to believe it might just be possible. The only thing is, does she believe in herself?

Rating: four-stars

 

Gina loves her job as a childminder that she runs from her cottage that belongs to The Evergreens where three lovely octogenarians live. However, when the owner of the house dies, The Evergreens is put for sale and too many residents are facing losing their home. And Gina her business as well. Feeling responsibility, she decides to fight for the house, trying to collect ideas and money – but time is ticking and there are others interested in buying the mansion as well. Will Gina manage to save The Evergreens?

So, “A Patchwork Family”, it must be one of the most anticipated books of the year for many, many bookworms, right, and not only because it’s Cathy Bramley’s book but also because she has moved to Orion, and – at least I – have been asking myself if it means a change of style but no worries you lovely folk out there, Cathy’s writing stays the same, and the story is as warm and inviting as she got used to. And also kudos to the publisher for designing the cover of the book like this, so similar in style to the previous ones, I personally love it.

I adore how wide the spectrum of the title, “A Patchwork Family”, is. The author shows us that a “family” doesn’t always mean your own family, your own flesh and blood, but that sometimes it may reach much, much further and deeper. A family can also consist of your best friends, but also, like in Gina’s case, her charges and their families, and this message here has worked brilliantly. Cathy Bramley shows how important it is to encircle yourself with people who support you but who you can also support yourself, and not always people who can help you but also with those who need your help – being in majority may bring wonders.

The book, as always, is filled to brims with warmth and feel – good factor. You know where it’s leading – but you don’t read it for its unpredictability, you read it for the overwhelming lovely atmosphere – nevertheless, the author doesn’t make the way to the happy end too easy. On the contrary, it’s full of bumps and twists and you can’t help but keep everything crossed for the main character – will she manage to save The Evergreens and keep her business? Will she find happiness? There is this something in Gina that makes her feel so special, she has a heart made of gold and always has time for other people, even if it sometimes puts her in troubles. She’s generous and she’s really good at her job, there is so much passion shown there!
Next to Gina there are some truly brilliant children and octogenarians that added so much warmth, humour but also sadness to the pages, and taught us some important lessons as well.

The Evergreens is such an enchanting house, it’s no wonder that the characters wanted to save it, and the hilarious ways they tried to do this were like a breath of fresh air to read. The ways the young and old came together were aplenty and them sharing their lives and giving each other so much was wonderfully captured, without it feeling too forced or unnatural.

Cathy Bramley has found her niche, writing stories about communities, balancing humour with seriousness, and she sticks to this formula, and why not if it is working. However, maybe – just maybe – it would be lovely to get something – in this lovely, chatty writing style – more ambitious from Ms Bramley? With a bit deeper plot? Nevertheless, the book is a perfect example of her work so if you haven’t had a pleasure to read any books by this author yet (where have you been???), it is a perfect starting point to begin a lovely journey with her novels and stories.

There is love, sadness and hope, and the overwhelming feeling of kindness that we so much need in our lives as well, and this is probably why this book feels so heartfelt and is a real joy to read. It’s about taking chances, about kindness and friendship and no matter what I can assure you you’re going to finish reading it feeling cheered and satisfied. So if you are looking for an easy and pleasant read, look no further and treat yourself to “A Patchwork Family”. Recommended!

 

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Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

 

Publisher: Michael Joseph 43779862

Publishing Date: 6th February 2020

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 656

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

Rating: five-stars

 

“Grown Ups” introduces us to the life of Casey Family, three brothers with their wives and assorted children. There is Johnny, the good – looking one, married to the powerhouse Jessie who has two children from her previous marriage to Johnny’s best friend, and now her and Johnny have three children of their own. Jessie is the one running the most successful business and taking care of the family’s get – togethers, funding all the trips and other holidays. Ed is married to Cara. Cara works at the Ardglass Hotel and she’s the one looking after all of the tricky guests. They have two children and Cara herself has a huge problem. And there is Liam, the youngest one, a famous runner once, divorced and with two little girls, who has now married for the second time – the lovely Nell, free – spirited and artistic, and who now starts to discover that maybe she doesn’t love Liam as much as she has thought?
The book opens at one of the family’s get – togethers, Johnny’s birthday, shortly after Cara’s concussion – as a result she starts to reveal all the hidden secrets and truths that are going to rock many, many lives…

After the introduction – that is truly promising – the narrative goes back six months, and slowly takes us back to the starting point, i.e. to Johnny’s birthday, where everything began, to bring us back to present – but before we arrive there, there is a long and bumpy road, full of secrets, uncomfortable truths, hilarious and poignant moments.

What Marian Keyes can do perfectly well is to create her characters. They are full of flaws, with secrets and telling lies, they are dysfunctional but they feel human, realistic and believable. They make mistakes, they follow their instincts but the things that make them tick, that drive their actions are absolutely believable – and I think this is what makes them feel so special yet so normal.
While right at the beginning I felt really overwhelmed with the number of characters, and the family tree at the beginning of the book didn’t help, moreover, it has somehow complicated everything even more, I relatively quickly came to terms with who is who and to whom they belong and what is their background story. It takes time, but it is a huge book, and I enjoyed this pace, with the author giving me the chance to really get to know each of the characters.

The author really knows how to create relatable, deep characters that have their own distinctive voices. I think it is done deliberately that truly the children are more grown – up as the adults there, putting them in the right place every now and again, showing them they need to face the reality and truth, to take responsibility. I loved the way they were forced to stop messing around and really embrace their problems, through Cara having a concussion and starting to tell things how they really are – brilliant idea, and such a breath of fresh air.

This book was an epic family saga, digging deep into the shambled relationships and lives, telling things how they really are. I really liked the depth and details of every relationship and of every character life, it may not be a thing for every single reader, but I truly appreciated and enjoyed it. The length and depth the author went to describe the individual members of the family, dig behind the harmonious facade and reveal all the tension, resentment and secrets was exceptional and worked perfectly well. The author has brilliantly balanced sadness with humour, poignant moments with wit and sarcasm, and I loved this mix. She also has this incredible talent to easily pull you into the characters’ worlds. “Grown Ups” was a book touching upon so many issues – mental health, addiction, love, hate, grief, hope, love, secrets and family dynamics. Highly recommended!

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior / Blog Tour

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

 

Publisher: Bantam Press cover180579-medium

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 12.11.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Veronica McCreedy is 86, wealthy, living in a mansion in Ayrshire. She’s divorced and except for Eileen, her housekeeper, she has no – one. But she loves her Darjeeling tea, hates doors being left open and adores wildlife documentaries on TV. She has built a wall around herself but now, contemplating her life and wondering what to do with her money, she discovers there is a grandson, Patrick, living in Bolton. But as the first contact is rather disappointing, Veronica sets her mind on saving penguins and travel to Antarctica. But who is going to save whom? Veronica penguins or penguins Veronica?

I wanted to read this book so much not because – like so many of the other reviewers – of the penguins, though I must admit that it was also a very catchy angle, and if you think that the penguins are used as a metaphor or something, well, no, there are cute penguins overload, and I think it’s a brilliant idea! – so yes, maybe because of the penguins as well, but I also loved Hazel’s debut novel. I actually rated it with 5 stars, so am not sure what to do with this book as I enjoyed it even more than “Ellie and the Harpmaker”.

The story is told through Veronica and Patrick’s points of view, and the characters slowly but steadily grew on me, especially Patrick that, I must admit, probably misjudged a bit. Veronica was a brilliant character, a woman who really knew what she wanted. She was feisty, determined, persistent and actually very stubborn but in a way that was not so obvious. I mean, it was obvious that she’s stubborn, and she always got what she wanted, but she accomplished those things with a lot of charm. Oh well, OK then, she did whatever it took to get ahead but she didn’t hurt anybody, even if she took no notice of others’ opinions. It was simply somehow funny.
Throughout the story we also learn about Veronica’s past and see what it was that shaped her and made her the person she is now – lonely and harsh in judging. But she used to be so full of life and joy, and it was heart – breaking to see what has happened to her. However, deep down I always thought that she was always a good person at heart, it was life that simply stopped her believing in people, and she proved me right, giving the relationship with Patrick a chance, with the little help of Pip the penguin and the lovely Terry.
It’s very easy to make assumptions about Patrick, just like Veronica, and me too, but if you give him a chance, you’ll see there is so much more to him that meets the eye.

The writing style is so easy and chatty, and I liked it even better than in the first book – it simply seemed gentler and was so pleasant, as if the author has found her real voice this time, or felt more confident. It is vivid and warm, bringing the places and characters to life. The story is so well researched, the hard work that author put into it is evident and it paid off, as I truly enjoyed every single word and the descriptions of Antarctica, the conditions and the penguins were exquisite.

You actually don’t have to love penguins to adore this novel. This whole story oozes with charm and warmth and it was a lovely, warm and uplifting book about celebrating life and second chances, about love and loss and life altogether. It’s full of humour, but it is also poignant, so be prepared that you may shed a tear or two. There is also an environmental message in the book that I, as an animal lover, enjoyed very much, and I was truly quickly sold on Veronica because of her approach to animals. It is, without a doubt, one of the most delightful and cheerful and clever books I have read in a long time. Highly recommended!

 

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Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac / Blog Tour

Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 48543139._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

What if loving someone means keeping a secret that will break your heart?

In late 1983, a letter arrives from Italy, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. More than three decades later, it is found . . . by the last person who was ever supposed to see it.

When Allie opens an envelope in her grandmother’s house, it changes everything she knows about her family – and herself.

With the truth liable to hurt those she loves most, she hires a private detective to find out what happened to her late mother in the summer before Allie was born. Taking leave from her job as a research scientist, she is led to the sun-drenched shores of Lake Garda, accompanied by her best friend Ed. But the secrets that emerge go far beyond anything they were expecting. Now, Allie must find the courage to confront her family’s tangled past and reshape her own future.

Messy, Wonderful Us is an enthralling and emotional story of human loss, love, friendship and the mystery that binds them all together from the bestselling author
of You Me Everything.

Rating: five-stars

 

Allie’s life is comfortable. She has a job that she loves and family that she adores. However, one day, she finds a letter that she was never supposed to find, and her life changes – suddenly she doesn’t feel like she belongs. She’s desperate to uncover the secret from her mother’s past, and as her grandmother doesn’t want to help, she decides to go to Italy, on a trip to unearth the truth. Her best friend Ed, who doesn’t feel like his marriage to Julia is working anymore, needs a break to think things over, and as he speaks Italian, he decides to travel with Allie. They both need this time out but they have no idea that they’re going to get more than they bargained for – but at what costs?

The story basically changes narration between three characters. Allie and Ed are the heroes of the present, and there are also diary entries from the past from an unnamed character, a young woman, telling her tragic story. Initially we can think the subplots have nothing in common, but the more we read, the tighter all the threads become, until there comes a moment when everything is beautifully wrapped up and explained. The characters are like living and breathing people, credible, believable and full of flaws, and yes, I think you can say they have a messy life, but nevertheless it’s still a wonderful life. They all simply feel honest and natural, their actions are not forced and the banter between them is genuine, and it’s a real joy to have such characters for once.

I really liked how well the author has balanced her plot, making it complex, filling it with various elements. The story covers many topics and touches upon many issues, and while they are serious and heavier, the book doesn’t feel sad. The overall atmosphere is light and full of hope. The author writes with gentleness, sensitivity and insight about adoption and domestic abuse. She explores family dynamics, father – daughter relationship and friendship in a dynamic, modern and surprising way. The writing style is so vivid, especially the parts the author takes us on the journey to Italy – I had a feeling of being there, seeing the things together with Allie and Ed. I think we can easily say that it is a slow – burner, in this sense that it takes its time to peel off all the layers, explore all the stories it hides on the pages, but it works perfectly, creating a compelling and complex read.

I must admit that this important twist came out of the blue for me – I actually guessed it at the same moment as the character did. I really didn’t see it coming, it came and hit me on the head, and I had this eureka – moment and everything became clear then. Needless to say, there is not the only twist, there are plenty of them, it’s an intriguing read, and the way to the end is bumpy and curvy. I really liked how the author has written this story – while it is sweet, and while it is a bit predictable and romantic, it is absolutely not overdone and there are really enough turns to have made gallop through the pages.

“Messy, Wonderful Us” is a story about love, grief, forgiveness and all emotions accompanying those feelings, creating us – messy and wonderful and unique, shaping our lives. It’s another winner from Catherine Isaac, a little gem of a book, hiding real treasures inside, and discovering them was a real joy. I fell in love with the setting, the characters and the idea, and the execution of it was perfect – it made me gasp and it made me laugh, and it’s a sign of a great book. Truly recommended.

 

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