Coming Home to Island House by Erica James
|title=Coming Home to Island House |author= Erica James |reviewer= Karen Grace |genre=Women's Fiction |summary= A beautiful story about relationships set at the start of the second world war. Thoroughly enjoyable and worth a read, however, for me it was kind of just 'nice' as in it wasn't one of those books that you just can't put down but I certainly wouldn't be adverse to reading another by the same author either. |rating=4 |buy=Yes |borrow=Yes |pages=448 |publisher=Orion |date=January 2018 |isbn=978-1409159599 |website= https://ericajames.co.uk/ |video= |amazonuk= }}
Much to the disgust of the village and his estranged children Jack Devereux has a new wife, the 'scarlet woman' Romily Temple. But, can his death and final demand that his children spend seven days together at childhood home, Island House, bring about a reconciliation and forgiveness from his much loved family? With sadistic Arthur, grief-consumed Hope, remorseful Kit and fiery Allegra this seems like an impossibility but then war is declared and the family find themselves pulling together.
This is a compelling story about relationships - the good, the bad and even the ugly (usually those involving Arthur). There's a real mix of characters, and plenty of them, but what I particularly liked is the author's gift for character development. Throughout the book you really start to understand each character, and the experiences that have shaped the way they behave and the relationships they have developed. It also means that none of the characters are what they may seem initially, in particular Romily who may seem to be an independent, vivacious gold-digger but is actually warm-hearted, generous and the driving force behind trying to reconcile the family.
The setting of 1939 and the start of the second world war, provides an interesting and added dimension to the story. Not to mention some truly sad and all-too-real accounts of injured soldiers, evacuees, Jewish persecution and letters home from the western front. In fact despite this being a fairly long book I was disappointed that it ended before the war finished. In fairness the fates of Jack's children had all been nicely determined by the book's end. But, those of some of the other characters such as Romily or half-Jewish half-German baby Annelise had not and with the war still raging you couldn't help feeling that the book ended before the end and wondering for example if Annelise's parents would survive and be reunited with their child.
Whilst fairly long for women's fiction, it's an easy read because of its short chapters which tend to focus on a particular character each time. It's a beautiful epic story which was thoroughly enjoyable and worth a read. However, it was kind of just 'nice' as in it wasn't one of those books that you just can't put down or has left me rushing to read any of the author's 21 other books but I certainly wouldn't be adverse to it either.
If you enjoyed this book, I would recommend almost anything else by the same author, such as Song of the Skylark or perhaps The Sisters of St Croix by Diney Costeloe for another historical women's fiction novel set in wartime Britain.
You can read more book reviews or buy Coming Home to Island House by Erica James at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Coming Home to Island House by Erica James at Amazon.com.
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