Coming Home by Melanie Rose
|Coming Home by Melanie Rose|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Lost memory, past life flashbacks, hypnotherapy and a hint of the paranormal in a character-driven and well-written novel for women.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: January 2010|
We meet the narrator of this story drinking coffee from a thermos in a lay-by, on a cold grey day. All her worldly possessions are travelling with her in her car, including her cat. She has clearly made some momentous decision, and is on her way to somewhere new. I assumed that as story unfolded, I'd learn more about her and where she was going.
However the weather takes a turn for the worse as she continues driving. Snow starts falling, and the roads become treacherous. Then, in a fairly brief scene, the car skids and she escapes with the cat just in time before her car plunges into a river. She bangs her head badly in the escape... and loses her memory.
It sounds cliched. But it's quite a dramatic start to an intriguing book. The narrator is found by a local farmer, and given a place to stay while the snow rages around. Most of the rest of the book is about her attempts to find out who she is.
There are several other characters, of course, taking varying parts in the novel. There are some attractive farmers, a suspicious housekeeper/nurse, and a small girl who has been selectively mute since the death of her sister, but who starts talking again. There's a rather bizarre neighbour who is convinced that there are ghosts in her house, and there's the housekeeper's brother who is, conveniently, a hypnotherapist. Unfortunately his attempts to help the narrator find out who she is take her - apparently - back to a former life in Victorian times.
The cover of this book implies that it will be 'chick-lit', and the blurb told me that fans of Sophie Kinsella or Cecelia Ahern would enjoy it. So I was expecting a bit of humour, a light storyline with - probably - some romance, or maybe something a little surreal. I wasn't expecting a novel that was so full of suspense that it became quite difficult to read just a couple of chapters last thing at night. The writing is good; it's not clear who exactly can be trusted, and the story moves forward apace - even if the forays into Victorian times were a bit too long-winded and informative for my tastes. Indeed, rather than either of the two contemporary novelists mentioned, I was reminded far more forcibly of Jane Aiken Hodge or Mary Stewart.
As the revelations continue, a local mystery from the past is finally resolved, and the family who sheltered the narrator initially also uncover some unpleasant truths, which enable them to move forward and learn to live again. I found the ending encouraging and hopeful, and also breathed a sigh of relief as I had found it quite a tense book to read. By the time I was half-way through I could no longer bring myself to read it at night, and ended up finishing it one morning instead.
My only real criticism is that the character of the housekeeper didn't seem consistent. Sometimes she's a bit dour but basically friendly; other times she seems positively unpleasant. She is necessary for the plot in many ways, and quite a central character, but I didn't feel I got to know her at all.
Other than that, though, I very much enjoyed the book. I shall be looking out for more by this author.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Coming Home by Melanie Rose at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Coming Home by Melanie Rose at Amazon.com.
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