26 August 2015
Book Review: The Sun in Her Eyes by Paige Toon
When Amber Church was three, her mother was killed in a car accident. A stranger was at the scene and now, nearly thirty years later, she's desperate to talk to Amber.
Living in London and not-so-happily married to Ned, Amber is greeted one morning by two pieces of news: she's to be made redundant from her City job and her beloved father, across the world in Australia where she grew up, has been felled by a stroke. She takes the first plane out to be by his side, leaving Ned uncertain as to when she will return. Reunited with her old friends, Amber is forced to confront her feelings for Ethan Lockwood, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she fell for as a young girl.
And then Amber receives a letter that changes everything …"
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Paige Toon's books are always something to get excited about for me - she's on of the few authors I love to read a book by and will read it whatever it is about really! I was excited to receive a review copy of her latest book The Sun in Her Eyes, and of course couldn't wait to get stuck in. I loved the cover, and was hoping it would be as good as Paige's previous novels that I have devoured in just a few short evenings, While this wasn't perhaps my favourite of Paige's books, it was still a very good read, and is now sat looking beautiful with the rest of my Paige Toon collection on my bookshelf, ready to be re-read when I find some time!
The story was an interesting one for me, mainly because I was at odds with what the main character was doing throughout. Amber has to return to her native Australia because her father has a stroke and it has left him quite poorly. It comes at a time when things aren't exactly harmonious in her marriage to Ned, and she thinks some time apart might heal the wounds in their relationship. However, she doesn't bank on bumping into her first childhood love, Ethan, and having some feelings ignited once more. As well as caring for her father and his wife, Amber has to make decisions about her future, but is also being haunted by her past...
The blurb of the book focuses heavily on Amber receiving a letter that is sure to change her life forever, but for me, this felt like a very small sub-plot of the book, and not at all the main story. It's a shame because I felt a lot more could have been made out of this rather than Amber's convoluted love life, and I certainly would have liked to see more of Amber's reaction to what transpires from the letter. We are, however, instead treated to a story about Amber's indecision over which man she truly wants to be with, and it left a bit of a sour taste at times - she was playing about, being unfaithful and she knew it, yet carried on. Affairs seems to be a recurring them in Paige Toon's books as of late, it would be nice perhaps to have something a bit different between her characters.
That being said, I did enjoy reading the story because Paige's writing, as always, is top notch. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Australia, from the vineyards that Amber visits with Ethan, to her fathers home and the pubs and bars she frequents. I felt the story around Amber's fathers stroke was extremely well written. It was emotional, and the way Toon writes about the struggle he has to literally get back on his feet, and the emotional trauma the family go through at this awful time was very raw but handled delicately and with sensitivity - it certainly gave me some insight into the devastating effects of a stroke, and it certainly showed Amber in her best light - a caring, loving daughter wanting to look after her ailing father.
Overall, this was a well written and enjoyable story from Paige Toon, but for me it wasn't her best. I like reading Amber's story, even if I didn't necessarily agree with her actions. I felt incredibly sorry for her husband Ned who was stranded back in England, wondering about the fate of his marriage. Amber wasn't exactly likeable, and I wish more had been said about her past and that the letter had been written about earlier in the book but it didn't stop my overall enjoyment of the book. Toon's writing is fabulous, the pace is good and the story doesn't wane at all, I certainly enjoyed picking it up every evening to read a few more chapters. Fans of Paige Toon won't want to miss this, but if you haven't yet read Paige Toon, I would start with her earlier books. A good summer read.