I am honestly on such a roll when it comes to finishing books this month’s. It’s probably because it’s the summer holidays and am distracting myself from the thought of going back to work with reading but, hey, I’m not going to complain.
I’ve also been on a roll recently when it comes to reading some rather fantastic books that I have picked up on a whim. The Silent Companions (which you can read the review for here) was just one example of that last minute oh I’ll buy and try this then and by golly was it worth it. This book that I am delighted to gush about today was bought in a panic too, just before I went away to Holland on a little holiday. Whilst my dad was waiting in the supermarket queue, grumbling over the wait and buying far too many train ride snacks, I decided to distract myself by looking at the books and having a little GoodReads add of the ones I thought I might try at some point. Cue my dad shouting that he’d treat me to one but I needed to decide quick as the queue was moving and I quickly grabbed this and stood anxiously in the line. I don’t believe in fate but I do feel like this book was destined to enter my life (as cringey and cheesy as that is). I felt like I connected to this story on a personal level so many times and let me just say the tears I shed when it was over certainly weren’t pretty.
And now we come to the point I dread: the summary. And as also, scared I will do a naff job or share a massive spoiler, I’m going to run away from this responsibility and rely on my good friend GoodReads to do the job for me. Thanks pal.
It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.
Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.
But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .
I won’t lie. As summaries go it’s not my favourite as it basically misses out everything so I’m probably going to tell you more about the plot as I go along. A disclaimer. You’ve been warned.
One thing that really resonated with me about this novel was that it was a love story about friendship. Yes, there is a romantic story, but the focus is largely on Lorna and the female friendships she makes, especially with Joyce, an elderly and reclusive artist. Watching both of them open up, push themselves out of their comfort zones, and learn to trust each other was beautiful and made this book so perfect. It is also about familial love and the idea of dependency through family units. In fact, the romantic plotline isn’t really in the focus that much. It is much more of a life story rather than a love story.
I can’t talk about this book without discussing the main character: Lorna. I engaged and related to her so much that it was actually borderline scary. Thirty year Lorna has played it safe after playing it wild didn’t work out. She doesn’t leap into the unknown but stays firmly within the known. She was so painfully human with all the flaws that come with being human. In this novel, we see Lorna push herself as do something crazy. We see her wonder ‘what if’ and see her fight for the things and people she cares about. She is honestly such an inspiring figure, especially to someone who worries she is playing too safe and is guilty of staying within the shadows of what was known.
I said earlier that when I finished this book I was in tears. This was a strong theme throughout my reading of this book. One of the reasons is because it discusses several hard hitting topics. One such topic is grief and how you deal with it. I won’t expand on their too much as I don’t won’t to spoil anything but part of Lorna’s journey is learning to deal with her grief and learning that it is ok to grieve and to let go of people. And honestly that is all I can write because I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.
So there you have it. This is truly such a beautiful book and it has found a special place in my heart. I hope you read it and have it within your heart to.