24 April 2017

Book Review: The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington

"Every family has a story…

But for the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach. Olly and Mae's marriage is crumbling, their teenage daughter Evie is on a mission to self-destruct and their beloved Pops is dying of cancer. Their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart.

But Pops has one final gift to offer his beloved family – a ray of hope to cling to. As his life's journey draws to a close, he sends his family on an adventure across Europe in a camper van, guided by his letters, his wisdom and his love.

Because Pops knows that all his family need is time to be together, to find their love for each other and to find their way back home…"

Rating: 5/5 

I read my first Carmel Harrington book last year when I read her festive book Every Time A Bell Rings. I enjoyed that read very much, and when I was sent a copy of Carmel's new read for review, I was definitely looking forward to reading this one too. This is the story of one family, and their trip around Europe, a last-chance to save their family once and for all. The marriage of Olly and Mae is at rock bottom, and following the death of Olly's father, they know it's make or break time. Olly's dad has organised a camper van across Europe, not Mae's idea of a relaxing holiday. They are all determined to try and make the holiday work, and live their grandfather's legacy as best they can... but maybe there are some surprises around the corner...

I loved the idea of this book! When I read the synopsis, I just knew I was going to love the story, and luckily, it lived up to every expectation I had and more! The Guinness family were perfect to read about, and I thoroughly enjoyed following their trip all the way until the final page, I simply didn't want this one to end. Olly and Mae are a couple in crisis, but right from the off I was hoping these two would work it out. Bad circumstances have sent them on a slippery slope, and I was so hopeful Mae could push her anger towards Olly away, and that Olly could start to feel proud of himself again, and not useless in their home. The book also features the pair's children, Jamie and Evie, and these are perfectly written, wonderful characters that I loved to read about.

Evie is a teenager, suffering with a recent hospitalisation which is causing big rifts between her parents, and also anxiety over why events happened. Jamie is much younger, and a joy to read. I loved his optimism, his zest for life and many of his actions throughout the book. Carmel writes families so well, the ups, the downs, the anger, the worry - everything is written so realistically, every drama believable, every tear heartfelt and true. I became completely obsessed with this book and reading about this family, it was just a perfect read.

As well as the brilliantly written family aspect, there is also the road trip around Europe. I have to confess I agree with Mae here, it sounds like my holiday from hell but as the trip gets underway, and Carmel writes about the advantages of such travel, it piqued my interest and I loved reading about the experiences. Many countries are also covered here, from Germany, to Austria, France and more, and I loved reading about each of them, and the things that the family got up, especially the more authentic, less touristy experiences! Vienna sounded like a dream, and no visit to France is complete without a bit of Disney magic of course! The way Olly's late father orchestrates everything from beyond the grave is simply perfect, and adds the emotional element throughout.

The book was brilliant from start to finish, and most definitely a contender for my best read of 2017 already. I know this story and these characters will stay with me for a long time, I simply adored this book, Carmel's writing and the story as a whole. Carmel is a brilliant talent, a writer who can tap into the heart of her characters, create a family any one of us could know or be part of, and send them off on an adventure of a lifetime. Emotional at times (it definitely made me cry!), funny, poignant and heart-warming, this book is a must-read and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

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