13 September 2012
Book Review: The First Time I Saw Your Face by Hazel Osmond
Jennifer had her life planned out ahead of her - she wanted to be a successful actress and have a fantastic career. All seemed to be going well until she was involved in a terrible car accident that has left her scarred for life, and a mere shell of the person she used to be. Her cousin, famous Hollywood superstar Cressida wants Jennifer to come out of herself a bit more but doesn't know how to get there. When hunky Mack turns up in Jennifer's small town, she starts to feel things that she hasn't felt for a long time, and Mack seems like the perfect guy in so many ways. But there's something that Mack isn't telling the villagers, and if it comes out, it's going to cause more than a few ripples among the residents....
I read Osmond's debut novel Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe? last year, and really enjoyed it. I liked her style of story-telling and the realistic characters she crafted, but when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was going to be something a bit darker and deeper than what I had previously read from this author. I have to say the cover was pretty eye-catching, with the dark colours contrasted with the bright pink of the title, and the photographic image being fairly striking too, considering a lot of women's fiction in the UK tends to stay away from photos on book covers, preferring to stick to cartoon style covers.
I found this book a really good read, and I ploughed through it was ease, even though it was a fairly sizeable novel. Osmond creates a brilliant cast of characters, based in a small village in Northumberland, and a tight knit community who love to protect their own. Osmond centres a lot of the action around a play that the local drama group is putting on, and this gives ample opportunity for her to introduce lots of characters, and it gives a great feel to the book, and unlike some books where I struggle to keep up with a big cast, I didn't find this too much of a problem here as they were all so different, and didn't detract from the main cast at all. Jennifer is perfectly written as the damaged (in many ways) young woman, and Osmond writes her humiliation, her embarrassment and her need to hide herself way so realistically, you feel incredibly sorry for her very quickly.
Clearly a lot of research has gone into this storyline, so many aspects of it are beautifully done by Osmond, from Jennifer's thoughts and feelings to the more medical side of it where things are being described and it's a moving read in this respect. I loved how the characters, such as Mack who meet Jennifer for the first time, are shocked by her face, and don't hide this, much how many people wouldn't in real life, and this made the book all the more convincing. I loved Mack's character, he was a real family man going through problems with his own mother, and I felt like he was between a rock and a hard place throughout this book. I really cared about both of the main characters, and was willing them both to have the happy ending they both really deserved.
This is a wonderfully written book by Osmond, and I highly recommend it to fans of her previous book, and also those who like something a bit more serious as well. Osmond handles the delicate topics within with ease, and gives us a cast of characters that you really care about and get into. The way Osmond tells the story from both Mack's and Jennifer's perspectives allows the reader to get glimpses into each of their lives and understand them more, and I found that the romance in the book was really well written as well, and really did fit the pace of the story perfectly without being too obvious and unnecessary. A very enjoyable read, and one that comes recommended by me.
You can buy The First Time I Saw Your Face as a paperback or an eBook now!