The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman

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The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: Ellie takes in lodgers to help her keep a roof over her son's head, and finds a way to move forward from tragedy in this entertaining novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Arow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0099525226

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Nearly a year on from the death of her beloved husband Nick in a car crash, Ellie is still not coping very well. She is overwhelmed by debts and because the accident was a result of Nick's own dangerous driving, the insurance company won't pay up. How can she keep the London house she lives in with her son Charlie? Her bossy sister Hannah comes up with a solution – three very different lodgers.

One of the things I enjoy most about Rowan Coleman's novels is her ability to create interesting and appealing characters, and the premise of this novel gives her the opportunity to introduce three new people whose insights can help Ellie move forward with her life.

Ellie does some freelance work copy-editing romantic fiction, and the publisher she works for has a client who needs somewhere to live and work after her home has been wrecked in a flood, and also needs some help. Ellie finds herself as a landlady/PA to elderly historical novelist Allegra. I was a bit dubious about Allegra's bodice ripper books, with plots involving falling in love after sexual violence, but the author, a woman in her 70s, turns out to be a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the portrayal of friendship across the generations.

Young journalist Matt has just landed his dream job on lads' mag Bang It! At first he looks forward to the work and to the opportunities for no strings attached sex with attractive women, but he finds himself less comfortable as a Jack the Lad than he expected. His adventures and exploits in the new job, and some unexpected lessons to learn, provide one of the funnier strands of the novel. He is also an adult male for Charlie to relate to.

Sabine has come to London to get away from a cheating husband, to put some distance between them. I thought she was understated but intriguing.

I found the portrayal of Charlie, poised between childhood and adolescence, quite convincing, a touching mixture of vulnerability and bravado and my anxiety about him and the relationship between him and his mother was one of the things that made me turn the pages.

I was less convinced by Ellie's bossy little sister Hannah. Though she does come up with the initial idea of taking in lodgers, she often seems very insensitive – she wants to help but doesn't always do it in the right way, and I found her irritating. However, this is quite realistic, that where there are tensions in a relationship or problems with the way a character acts, that is likely to continue. Most writers in this genre would soften Hannah more than Rowan Coleman does.

Ellie starts off the novel as a woman lacking in confidence, shattered by grief, and perhaps a bit naive. It is good to see her emerge as a more whole person with the help of her lodgers and she becomes more likeable, less wimpy.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read in which only some loose ends are sorted out by the end of the story, others are still to be resolved. I found the end satisfying without being too neat and tidy.

Thank you to Arrow for sending a copy of this book to the Bookbag.

Two other novels about thirty something widows are the excellent Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil, and Rachel Hore's A Place of Secrets.

Buy The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman at

Buy The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Happy Home For Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman at


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