17 September 2010

Book Review: Homecoming by Cathy Kelly

Eleanor Levine left Ireland as a small child and moved over to New York where she spent the rest of her life. However, the death of her beloved husband Ralf has led Eleanor to make the move back to Ireland again, and so she finds herself alone in a quiet Irish town watching the world go by, trying to put her life back together before it's too late. Rae is hiding a terrible secret from her darling husband and son, but isn't sure how it will affect her family forever. To everyone in the town, Rae is a happy woman who runs the local teashop, but how will they see Rae once her secret is out? Connie O'Callaghan is a teacher at a local girl's school and loves her job very much, but she's very unlucky in love. Her ex-fiance Keith has left her broken, and Connie no longer has the confidence to find the man of her dreams. Finally, Hollywood starlet Megan Bouchier arrives in Ireland hiding from the press after her romance with a married movie star has put the stops on her career, and she doesn't know where to turn next. Will a quiet Irish town help Megan mend her broken heart? Is it a Homecoming for all the women?

If I am honest, the past 2 Cathy Kelly books that I have read have been a disappointment to me, they've been quite slow and taken too long to go anywhere for me, so I really hoped that Homecoming would be a return to the Cathy Kelly of old, with her easy to read and enjoyable stories. I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous and would definitely encourage me to pick the book up in a shop, so fingers crossed the story would match up to my expectations. This is actually Cathy Kelly's 12th novel which is pretty amazing to still be bringing out quality books, so let's see if Homecoming is worth a read!

Homecoming begins with the character of Eleanor, who I presumed was going to be the main one throughout the book but that proved not to the case. I was curious to find out why Eleanor had made the long trip from New York back to Ireland by herself, and I assumed that this was going to be gradually revealed as the book progressed. Instead, Kelly chose to really include Eleanor mainly just through her interactions with her neighbours Connie and Megan which was surprising but interesting. To be honest, by the end of the book I still couldn't quite work out why she went back there because it didn't seem to move much with her but that was really the only bad part of the book for me. It's a shame as I think Eleanor's story could have been really well developed but it didn't do it for me.

The best story without a doubt was Rae's. I can't really say too much because I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who wants to read this book, and I found knowing nothing about it when I began the book makes it all the more powerful. I will, however, say that it is a very emotionally charged story that will hit the heart's of the readers, and I really did feel for Rae because what happened in her past was totally beyond her control. It was a good story to reflect the period in which Rae grew up, and I was hooked by it all the way through, eager to find out how it would all pan out. As for the other characters, I loved Connie but her obsession with her ex Keith did grate on my nerves a little bit, I just wanted to shout at her to forget about him and get on with her life! Megan I had expected to hate but Kelly writes her in such a way that you can't help but like her and feel sorry for a girl who has had her heart broken by a lothario.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the sense of community that I got from the moment I began the book. With Kelly's previous books, I really struggled to connect with the characters or the story, therefore finding it difficult to get myself absorbed into the book but this wasn't a problem with this book. I found the limited characters and locations actually worked really well as I began to care about these characters a lot, and imaging the quaint village of ?? was easy to do and found it very homely and cosy. The writing style was really easy to read, and I found it easy to dip in and out of the book with ease. There were a few flashbacks throughout the book and they were very well done, not disturbing the narrative too much and really setting the scene for the present day stream of the book.

Overall, Cathy Kelly's Homecoming is a very good read, and one I would recommend. It's different to her previous books and seems like a revisit to her previous more successful books which I was very pleased about. You can really get into the book and begin to care about these characters because you learn so much about them, and I really wanted everything to work out for them in the end. Megan and Rae were by far my favourite characters, and I like how Kelly flashbacks to their past as well so the reader can understand their feelings and present situation more. It's definitely a return to form for Kelly in my opinion, and certainly makes me look forward to her future books, and I hope she sticks more to this sort of story because it suits her writing style so much more. I really enjoyed this book, and it is recommended by me!

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really good story with a lot of depth to it. Thanks for sharing this one :}. You might also enjoy Mitch Davies's new fiction novel out called, "A Wind In Montana," which centers around two young adults who are being pressured and must choose to make the right decisions. This one is great for teens and I love how the author reaches out to young people and gets on their level. A book like this is a rare find these days.