Oh my goodness this beautiful novel really did pull at my heartstrings. It was stunningly romantic and reduced me to a hormonal weeping mess. I just knew something was going to happen to this lovely couple, because everything was perfect in their world and they were embarking on a project to help others. Libby and Jack were bringing to life his dream by developing an arts centre/retreat for underprivileged children. They already had the keys to the property and were ready to go, when a phone call changed everything. Just as I’d fallen in love with this gorgeous couple, the author shatters their lives. I don’t want to ruin the plot for everyone, so I’m not going to talk about what happens, but I am going to talk about the characters.
Libby is our narrator and I really felt for her so much. Her world has been so rocked that she’s struggling to trust anything or anybody. She’s scared of everything, because now she knows that the worst things we imagine can happen. The author cleverly lets Libby drop little hints and ideas about what’s coming next, they work like cliff hangers, so that I kept jumping to the next chapter and reading a bit more. Just a head’s up – can end up half way through without realising!
I loved Sid, just loved him. He has just moved into a care facility, because he needs extra support, and gifted Libby and Jack his house. This is the only way they’re able to realise Jack’s dream of opening the arts centre. Sid is like a surrogate grandfather to the couple, and the way his relationship develops with Libby as the novel progresses was really touching. At a time when she feels hopeless and lost, he is so supportive, positive and uplifting. I wanted my own Sid for his wise advice alone. I would love to read a whole book about Sid’s past, because I want to know how he came about his philosophy on life.
Although the book has an obvious film inspiration, I kept thinking of the moment at the end of the Steve Martin film Parenthood. He’s panicking because he walked out on his job and his wife has just announced she’s pregnant with baby No 4. His grandma starts to talk about the fairground, and while other people like safer rides like the dodgems, she loved the rollercoaster. He doesn’t get it at first, but later at his children’s play when everything starts to go wrong, he realises that instead of panicking, he could just laugh and go with it. Sit back and enjoy the ride. It makes you realise that how you view life is always a choice.
I don’t know much about the author, but I’d hazard a guess that this is someone who’s life experience has informed these characters and their situation. Truth and real pain shines out from these pages. Readers can tell if a person’s writing comes from their heart, and this truly does. It seems easy to dismiss ‘romance’ as something silly and frivolous when it isn’t. Love, real love, changes our lives. We move house for love, we change lifestyle, we make lifelong commitments. If we think about the love we have, from partners, friends, family, it’s without doubt the most uplifting thing in our lives. When we lose someone we love it’s devastating and life altering. Yet, we still love. This inner hope and endless capacity to love, is the most important thing we can write about, because it’s the most important thing in our lives. I felt the writer understood this. The story teaches us not to waste time, to hold on tight to those we love and to love life even when it isn’t ‘all beer and skittles’.
Published 21st July 2021 by HQ
Meet The Author
Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.
Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.