Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 49128139._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer.
One house.
One family learning to love again.

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

Rating: five-stars

 

Cate has been struggling since her husband Richard died, moreover so as she’s been made redundant and she and her and Richard’s son Leo must now leave their London place and move into Richard’s family home, at least for the summer. But actually, it’s not your usual, normal home – it’s a museum with some rooms where they can stay. A museum full of menagerie of dioramas, mounted animals, beautiful gardens, glass – domed library. Its caretaker Araminta Buchan is not too happy with their arrival, though while cold and stiff with Cate she’s much softer towards Leo. She tells things how they are: the museum is under threat of closure. Is it now on Leo, the descendant of Colonel Hugo Lyons – Morris, to save the place? Are they going to learn more about the family that Richard wanted nothing to do with?

The more I read, the more invested in the story I was and the more I adored this book. It is this kind of novel that has this magical “something” that you look for in your books, that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go, the best kind of “something”. I have never came across such a museum and at the beginning it was really hard to imagine it, but with Ms Harris’s beautiful, vivid descriptions it quickly changed. Still, the idea was such a novelty to me and I think it was a real breath of fresh air. Hugo, Leo’s grandfather, was an explorer and then a collector, bringing many species of animals back from his travels, as he wanted to show people who weren’t able to travel the world. The way the past was reflected here was so clever, and it added so much to this book.

The characters are all so well written, they simply feel like living and breathing people, and all of them had their own story to tell. The author wasn’t afraid of challenging them and often putting them in difficult situations, situations that seemed impossible to be solved, and letting them to take the lead, to show how strong they actually are and how much passion and determination they hide.

It is beautifully written, almost poetic but still the language is so modern and up – to – date, and the words flow so seamlessly, and you just want to read, and read and read, they’re so well – rounded and they work so well together, creating a vivid and colourful story. The author immediately draws you into the heart of the book, transports you into the characters’ world and you feel as if you knew them personally. Yes, it was a slight slow – burner, however there was always something happening in this story, and I think that the end was than quite filled with action and events and all the secrets have actually came out in the end, but believe me, it doesn’t mean that it is rushed, because it’s not. It simply wraps everything together and ties up all the loose ends, leaving you satisfied but sad that the book came to its peak.

“Where We Belong” brilliantly describes and captures all kind of complex relationships and touches on all possible emotions and feelings, addressing some heavier issues such as mental health and grief. It was a moving, poignant but also heart – warming and uplifting tale, a story about the ups and downs of having a family, about second chances and actually never losing hope. The characters were growing and evolving, the descriptions made your imagination soar and there was much depth hidden between the pages. There was also an element or two of mystery and the pace of unveiling the secrets was perfect. It was not absolutely unpredictable, however there are things that you won’t probably be able to guess before they’re revealed. I think that this novel is even better that the author’s debut offering, which was also brilliant, so it’s really telling something. Highly recommended!

 

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

 

39847781Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback(out on 25.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

GRACE ATHERTON HAS FALLEN OUT OF LOVE … AND INTO LIFE

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is the story of a woman who has her heart broken, but then puts it back together again in the most uplifting and exquisite way.

Rating: four-stars

Grace Atherton is a cellist and a luthier and a shop owner – she repairs violins and cellos. She loves what she’s doing, though her dream was of becoming a professional cellist, however this dream has been ruined after she’d been ejected from music academy, though there is much more to this than we can think at first. She loves her boyfriend David, though as it happens he’s married and he’s at least honest with her about it, and about the fact that he won’t leave his wife, at least not while their children are still little ones. But he believes in Grace and he entered her into the Cremona Triennale Competition, for which she’s creating and building a cello. There are two other people who support her through thick and thin, a loyal and caring customer Mr. Williams, and her teenage, quirky and sassy shop assistant Nadia. But when something happens, that puts David in the public eye and their relationship in jeopardy, Grace’s safe life is torn to shreds. Will she be able to recover enough?

I don’t know, I can’t put into words, but this novel was simply magic. The way it was written, there was, despite all the little and huge dramas, the overwhelming feel – good factor, it was heart-warming and beautiful. Now I realise that what probably made me feel this way was the fact that, even though all the characters in this book has their own problems and issues, the problems were all resolved by the end, and maybe it is not how it always works in life but it sat well with this novel. Sure, maybe it was too fairy – talish, too perfect but on the whole I didn’t have a problem with this.

In the background, or maybe I should say in the foreground of this book, is music. I must admit that some of the descriptions, especially the one of the spontaneous concert at the end of the story, gave me goose bumps, so vividly and beautifully were they described. Also the descriptions of restoring the damaged instruments were for me surprisingly interesting, I’ve never supposed I’d found myself so engrossed in reading about a thing that I’ve no idea of. Although, to be honest, I think it was pretty lost on me as I really had no idea what I’m reading – please don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully written, elegant and eloquent and the author has brought all the things and music to life, you simply have to have a talent to write about music in such a way and I appreciate it with all my heart but it’s absolutely not my kind of thing. So there. I’ve said it. But I still loved it.

What didn’t work for me so much, though, is the fact how weak Grace was about her boyfriend David. Yes, I get it, that’s the way she was – emotional, full of feelings, with life experience but perhaps because of this she should have known better. Especially that, well, I didn’t like David, the smooth operator, and in my eyes Grace deserved much, much better. However, please do keep reading the book – at the end you’re going to understand how important it was for Grace, and I loved to see her growing in confidence. I thought that Grace is younger at the beginning, to be honest, judging her on the way she was talking about David and behaving around him, until her age was explicitly stated, and so, knowing that she was in fact forty made her seem a little too naive, too believing.

It was a fast – paced novel, even though a huge part of it covers the renovations of the instruments, and there is much about music, but – I think I’ve already mentioned it, and if not I’ll for sure mention it – it was simply beautifully written. The author has a brilliant, engaging and easy flowing writing style. She takes us for a journey from London, to Paris and eventually to Cremona in Italy, a journey full of ups and downs. You may not expect it, but Grace, who at the first glance seems to lead a very uneventful life, which, as it turns out, is not true, her life is rather complicated. I didn’t judge her, it was her choice to live her life like this, but the way she put David on a pedestal was unreasonable and, yes, made me feel a little sorry for her. Waiting for permission to travel to Paris to see him, I mean, Grace, hello? And let’s be honest, he couldn’t be more obvious in this whole “staying together for the kids’ sake” act.
The other characters, that were probably meant to be background ones, added so much colour and life to this book. Grace, Nadia and Mr. Williams, who also had their own problems, were a very unlikely trio that worked together brilliantly. They found each other and it was lovely to see how all of them needed this unusual friendship.

Altogether, “The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton” was a charming, uplifting and also though – provoking and controversial story about friendship, trust, lost loves and hopes, heartbreak, second chances, being back on your own feet. I might have not understand all Grace’s actions and decisions but they were necessary, for us to see how much it cost to learn from our own mistakes and how much it cost to just move on. There was incredible heart in the characters, they were so lovely developed and every feeling of theirs simply oozes from the pages. And I also think this book doesn’t need any comparisons to other books, because it’s going to stand alone by itself – it’s emotional, unique and a special debut novel by Anstey Harris – truly recommended!