The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

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The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes rambling... this is the story of three people who begin to find healing in different situations. Set in small-town America.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 407 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Arrow Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099564027

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Jo Marie, who was recently widowed, feels drawn to an inn in a small town called Cedar Grove, where she believes she can find healing. She renames it Rose Harbor Inn and gets ready to welcome her first two guests.

Josh has returned to the town to visit his dying stepfather. They have never had a good relationship; Josh was thrown out of his house after his mother’s death, just before he graduated from High School. He hopes to retrieve a few of his mother’s treasured possessions, although he dreads seeing his angry, abusive stepfather again. What Josh does not expect is that a girl he remembers from high school has become his stepfather’s unofficial nurse, and has also grown extremely attractive.

Abby, Jo Marie’s second guest, has come to Cedar Grove for her brother’s wedding. She is very anxious about being in the neighbourhood, as she thinks that everyone hates her. Years ago she was driving a car which skidded on some black ice, and caused a tragic accident. She has never forgiven herself and is sure that all her former friends still blame her...

The story is told from each of these three perspectives in turn. This device works well in seeing the different situations unfold, with some interaction between the characters as they meet in passing at the Inn. I found it slightly odd that Jo Marie’s chapters are told in the first person, while Josh and Abby’s are in the third person; this jarred slightly, even by the end, but was no more than a niggle.

I really wanted to like this book. The setting is gentle, the people likeable, the stories, if a little predictable – obviously all three are going to find some healing in the town – could have been moving and uplifting. The flashbacks are handled nicely, showing us incidents in the past that explain some of what is going on in the present. There are plenty of subplots to make it interesting, and while there are rather too many minor characters, one or two stand out as memorable. This book is the first in a new series but is also apparently set in the same town as a previous series by the same author, so it’s not surprising that there were a few extraneous people who did not add much to the plot.

Unfortunately, much of the book was rambling and repetitive. Particularly in the middle sections, every implication was spelled out; nothing was left to my imagination or intelligence. Rather than showing ways in which Jo Marie is still grieving, Josh angry and Abby consumed with guilt, we’re told about their feelings, over and over. On a couple a few days I almost didn’t want to pick the book up at night: I was interested to see where the story was going but felt tired by the thought of yet more heart-searching and navel-gazing that simply repeated what had happened before and explained the characters’ current emotions in yet another way.

I also found many of the conversations to be rather dull. I was not interested in exchanges about whether or not someone wanted coffee, and whether they would like milk or sugar. They took the story nowhere, and I felt that the book would have benefited greatly from some significant editing.

And yet...

There’s something about this book that was oddly appealing. It’s set in America, but that was only occasionally obvious - it works well across cultures. Moreover, the three main characters somehow crept under my skin, to the extent that I started to become irritated for them with being so inward-looking, so slow to grasp what was obvious to me. Sometimes I almost forgot that they were not real. There was quite a moving scene towards the end, where, to my surprise, I found my eyes prickling. Despite everything, I was sorry to turn the final page and to realise I had to say goodbye to these three people who had started to feel like friends.

So, in the end, I would give this a cautious recommendation, if you enjoy gentle, heart-warming stories with no violence, sex or bad language, and if you don’t mind a somewhat rambling style of writing. I may even look out for more books by this author.

Thanks to the publishers for sending the book. We also have a review of Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber.

If you enjoy light women's fiction there are many novels of this kind available; a couple of good ones are A Small Part of Me by Noelle Harrison and Before We Say Goodbye by Louise Candlish

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Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber at


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