The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady

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The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Katie Blow
Reviewed by Katie Blow
Summary: When Frances Bewholme becomes an unmarried mother at the age of sixteen, her family faces public disgrace and humiliation; so her mother, Agnes decides to take care of the baby twins herself. Fran is forced to live out her life in isolation and heartbreak, miles away from her babies but years later she decides she can endure it no longer and makes the courageous step to reclaim what is rightfully hers.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 224 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd
ISBN: 978-0709092117

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It is 1941 so when an unmarried Frances Bewholme becomes pregnant she is shunned by her family and sent to an isolated farm to live and work. To add to her shame and disgrace Fran's unborn baby is not just any man's; it is her brother-in-law's. Victor Renton, home on leave from the war takes advantage of Fran one night when she comes home, upset and heartbroken.

Agnes Bewholme, Fran's strict mother knows only too well what it feels like to be a bastard child and unbeknown to Fran, she decides that no grand child of hers will suffer the same fate. After the painful and traumatic birth of twins, a boy and a girl, Agnes takes the babies away from their mother, promising Fran that she will look after them, with the help of her other daughter, Isabel. Fran, too ill and young to argue, naively believes her. Then comes the shocking news of her daughter, Christine's death. Fran, only sixteen years old, must come to terms with this devastating loss and the growing realisation that she may never be reunited with her son, Michael.

This is in many ways a very gripping and emotional story. I liked the clever use of dramatic irony as the separate storylines weave together towards the end. It certainly kept me on my toes with a growing desire to see all the characters reunited. Switching between characters, the reader gets a well-rounded view of the plot, rather than being confined to just one perspective. We're even given a brief chance to see events through Isabel's eyes, who until this point is very much portrayed as the villain for her involvement in the separation of Fran and her son. However, Broady turns this view on its head by inviting us into Isabel's thoughts and emotions, which show us how much she loves Michael.

Sadly, I feel that the book lacks convincing characters. Their emotions are rather too black and white, which makes them difficult to relate to and picture in reality. There are no grey areas and their feelings jump from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, often without warning. A number of the characters' actions raised questions in my mind, one of them being when Fran is told that Nick, a temporary lodger in her father's house, is a murderer and she instantly believes the allegations, without even questioning the alleged himself. There were other such actions that took away from the credibility of the story and its characters.

I am not a particular fan of happy endings in which all the characters go riding off into the sunset so I was dreading the end of this story. But I'm pleased to say that Broady surprised me by a rather unpredictable and upsetting twist, which gives the ending a more realistic edge. There is also some uncertainty as to the characters' futures but as in real life there is a lingering sense of hope and the promise of new beginnings.

My feelings towards this book are rather mixed. I didn't love it but I certainly didn't hate it either. It was on the whole a very entertaining read and whilst at times not a lot seemed to be happening in terms of plot developpment, that didn't really bother me. If your reading list is already jam-packed with titles, I wouldn't recommend you squeeze this onto it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading: Family Connections by Anna Jacobs

Buy The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Yearning Heart by Sylvia Broady at Amazon.com.


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Ke Greene said:

This book was an excellent read which my wife and I had difficulty putting down. We will, without qualification, be recommending it to family and friends. We very much look forward to reading Sylvia's next book.

Ken & Yvette Greene, Beverley, E Yorks