Title: The Girl at the Window

Author: Rowan Coleman

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

A house full of history is bound to have secrets…

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things

The Review

The Girl at the Window is the story of Trudy who has moved back home with her young son to the place she grew up. Going home is a big deal and besides dealing with the emotional deons of her past she is also dealing with actual haunting spectres.

Okay, if I am 100% honest I am not sure if I loved this book. I feel like the story was two separate things almost willfully fused together. I am not saying the story wasn’t good it was just that I didn’t really feel the connect between the two of them. The historical and mythical element seemed like it could have bee the main story which is weird because it played second fiddle to the modern day tale of Trudy losing her husband. I think I wanted more of the past than the present.

I know people will love this story. Coleman never writes anything that is bad and The Girl at the Window is a good book. It is a good story. Personally, I just wanted more of the second story.

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman is available now.

For more information regarding Rowan Coleman (@rowancoleman) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Ebury Press (@EburyPublishing) please visit their Twitter page.

The Blurb

Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved… Wherever you look, I will be there.

Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones – some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…

We Are all Made of Stars is an uplifting and heartfelt novel about life, loss and what happens in between from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book.

The Review

It is hard to believe that a book that has a central theme of loss can be so life affirming and uplifting but that is exactly what We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman is like.

We Are All Made of Stars centres on three characters: Stella, Hope and Hugh. All three have big life blockers that are either making them deal with loss and death. Stella, married to an ex-soldier who has been wounded whilst on tour, works in a hospice that looks after the dying and the convalescing. She spends her night shifts writing goodbye letters for patients and she spends her days avoiding her own emotional baggage.

Hope is young girl who has spent her life battling with Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic battle that usually comes with an early expiration date. It is at the hospice that she face her on mortality and realises that it is not the illness that will bring on her untimely death but her choice to not live.

Then comes Hugh, a man who has lost both his parents and through this he has kind of lost himself. Life throws him a few unexpected life lines which alter the course of his existence.

Throughout the narratives of these characters we also get to read some of the letters that Stella has helped write for her patients. All of the letters are filled with love: familial love, secret love and romantic love. It makes you wonder if you knew the end was near how would you want your loved ones to remember you? What would you want to tell them?

The concept of this story is wonderful and Rowan Coleman really does give her readers a treat with We Are All Made of Stars. Here characters voices are unique and they complement each other. Her narrative threads are well thought out and do not leave you with questions or with an uncomfortable feeling of ambiguity. Essentially, Coleman gets to the heart of the subject of loss in a way that I have seen some authors struggle to do.

We Are All Made of Stars was a pleasure to read and has joined the high calibre of books that will stay with you for a very long time after you have turned its final page.

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman is available now.

Follow Rowan Coleman (@rowancoleman) on Twitter.

We Are All Made of Stars

Title: Secret Santa

Author: Scarlett Bailey

Pages: 106

Synopsis

It is but a few days before Poldore’s annual Christmas pageant and Sue’s usual Santa Claus has retired, parked the reindeer and hung up his present sack. Sue has to ensure that the event runs as smoothly as it does every year, not just because she is a control freak and town matriarch but also because the people of Poldore are only just getting over the devastating impact of last year’s inclement weather. On a more personal note, Sue also is trying to hold things together ever since her husband walked out on her a few days earlier. No, she needs to make this year special. She needs a Christmas miracle.

Review

Whilst I did enjoy this short story I felt at a slight disadvantage being that I hadn’t read its predecessor. This is no fault of the authors or should in any way reflect on the short story Secret Santa; the fact that I knew that the characters had previously been written about is because of the conscientious writing of Bailey who introduced all the main players with thoughtful information from their book past. What Bailey has managed to do with this short story is intrigue me enough to want to read the rest of the books in the Poldore series.

Focusing on Secret Santa, this story gave me what the other festive texts have yet to do. It gave me that added bit of Christmas magic. There was a slight element of the unnatural, the unrecorded and whilst I have loved the books that I have read in my festive feature they have all lacked that element of magic that you can really only get away with at Christmas.

I loved how strong willed Sue was, how her determination to look after everyone took precedence over her own life. She seemed to be such a giving person. What I loved more about her though is that we were able to see moments of self doubt and weakness and that she wasn’t too proud to let others help her. Her strength didn’t become a detriment.

I was really impressed by Secret Santa and I am intrigued to read about the rest of the characters. This book should be on your Christmas to be read list. I know the rest of the series has been added to mine.

Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey (Rowan Coleman) is available now.

You can follow Scarlett Bailey (@ScarlettBailey) on Twitter.

 

 

memory bookTitle: The Memory Book

Author: Rowan Coleman

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

Original, heartwarming and uplifting, The Memory Book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Meet Claire. She is in her 40s. She is married with two daughters, Caitlyn and Esther and she has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman is the heartbreaking story of Claire Armstrong who is battling with a degenerative illness that she has inherited from her father’s side of the family. Every day she wakes up unsure whether she will have a good or bad day; whether she will be lucid in the present or lingering in the past; whether or not her mind will be able to recognise her loved ones.

The multi-perspective story explores the debilitating effects of AD on not only the patient but also on the patient’s family and loved ones. We see how Ruth, Claire’s mother has to watch her daughter go through the same regression that her beloved husband went through before he succumb to the disease.

We watch Caitlyn as her life mimics her mother’s life when she was in her early 20s. Her struggle seems all the more brutal because she needs her mother now more than ever but only sees her own problems as an extra burden on a family already struggling under the weight of their circumstances.

And then there is Greg, Claire’s husband who watches his wife become a stranger on a daily basis. She forgets who he is, what connection he has to her and most hurtfully that he is the love of her life. Greg continually gets lost in the fog of Claire’s condition and it is truly heartbreaking.

I don’t claim to know a lot about Alzheimer’s Disease but what I do know is that it is a wretched disease not only for the person who has been diagnosed with it but also for their family. What Coleman has managed to do with such acute verisimilitude is to beautifully present a heartbreaking yet heart warming story of a family fighting to come to terms with a diagnosis that does not have a positive outcome. It is this skill and tenacity of storytelling that made this book a real eye-opener and a privilege to read. If you haven’t read this book then add it to your nightstand pile of books immediately.

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman is available for purchase.

Follow Rowan Coleman (@rowancoleman) on Twitter and for more information visit her official website www.rowancoleman.co.uk.

For more titles from Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit the official website www.eburypublishing.co.uk.

4 Stars