22 February 2013

Book Review: The Heart Whisperer by Ella Griffin

"Claire Dillon still lives in the shadow of the past. On her thirty-third birthday, she gives herself a present. One year to change her future.

Claire Dillon's mother had everything to live for. A husband, two children, a successful medical practice. Then, at thirty-three, she died in a tragic accident. And it was Claire's fault.

Now Claire is the same age. A floundering actress with a broken heart, a collection of draft snakes, and a talent for self-sabotage. She is frittering her life away with the help of her oldest friend, the gorgeous ex-rock star, Ray Devine.

On her 33rd birthday she gives herself one last year to be more like her mother. But you should be careful what you wish for . . .

Her estranged brother Nick is back from America and keeping his distance from his clingy sister and his pathetic father while he reinvents himself as a daytime TV relationship guru. But Dublin is full of memories and Nick is already dreaming of escape. While his wife Kelly, has dreams of her own. Ones she isn't telling him about.

What will happen when another accident throws the dysfunctional Dillons together? And the secrets they have kept from themselves and one another finally begin to emerge?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Heart Whisperer as a hardback or an eBook now.

I really enjoyed Ella Griffin's debut novel Postcards from the Heart last year, and I was very pleased to receive a review copy of her brand new book The Heart Whisperer. I happen to really love the cover of the new book, it's very colourful and fresh and would certainly make me pick it up in a shop. I was really intrigued by the title as well - I was wondering what a heart whisperer was and how it would play into the story as well. It was quite a big, thick book and I was worried that perhaps it would read slowly, but there was something happening all the way throughout the book, and I enjoyed all of the characters' individual stories.

Claire Dillon is determined to live her life to the full, especially now she's at the age her own mother was when she tragically died. Claire feels like she has to live the life her mother didn't get a chance to, but her career as an actress isn't really going anywhere, she still lives with her best friend Ray and doesn't have many romantic prospects. Ray is perpetually single, but when a shocking revelation hits him, will he be able to deal with it and grow up once and for all? Claire's brother Nick is finally back from America with his wife Kelly, and he soon finds fame on TV as a relationship expert. But when their marriage starts to suffer cracks of its own, will Kelly and Nick be able to put it all back together again? Will the Dillon family fall apart, and will the secrets they've all been hiding be the families downfall?

Claire is the main character of the book, around which the whole book is based around her story. In fact, a lot of her past is a bit of a mystery to us -  we aren't told for quite a while what actually makes Claire put her mother on a pedestal, and also how she died. I was surprised when it was revealed because it wasn't what I expected, and as the revelations were more forthcoming as the book progressed, it explained a lot more about the actions of Nick, and their father as well which I found really interesting to read about. Claire was, for me anyway, a bit weak - she seemed to go along with everyone else's choices rather than making her own and I did find myself getting a bit frustrated with her at times, especially for how she treated her best friend Ray, who was one of my favourite characters.  In fact, other than Ray, I thought they were all quite dislikeable as people!

Nick was just a male character I really did not warm to at all - even as things were going on and I felt we were perhaps supposed to get on Nick's side more, I just couldn't like him, or his wife Kelly, even though their tale was at times quite emotional, especially when we see the story from Kelly's perspective. However, neither of them really redeemed themselves, and I found it hard to like either of them or their story in parts, especially Nick. The dynamic between Claire and Nick was fun to read, because they were more like strangers than brother and sister, and when their dad suddenly needs their help after years spent virtually ignoring each other, Griffin does a great job in writing the awkwardness in these scenes, and making the reader almost cringe away at how terrible they are at communicating as a family! I'm certainly glad I'm not part of the Dillon family. In fact, my favourite character of all was probably the loveable Dog, so well written that you just want to take him home all for yourself!

I was a bit unsure where the plot for this book was going at first, because there didn't seem to be a lot going on other than Claire's job, Nick's move back to the UK and what was going on with Ray, but it seemed to me that this book was less about the big actions, rather the way it affected the characters and how they evolved as the book went on, especially as long-ignored secrets start to become revealed. You could feel that each of these people really went through some tough times in the book, and while it isn't always an easy read, you're always drawn in because you want to see what Claire and co are going to do with the next drama in their lives. I found it to be a very complex and emotional read, and although I didn't necessarily like the characters within it, I did want to keep reading the book, and I was drawn into Griffin's story-telling, she has a way of writing that really brings the characters to life, and she effortlessly weaves their tales together. Her writing is very descriptive, but it manages not to become too bogged down in that which was great. I really enjoyed The Heart Whisperer,  and it's a book I would certainly recommend.


  1. Great review! Sounds interesting book..

  2. I usually have to find some type of connection with the characters to enjoy a book. but you do have me curious about it and I've never read this author.