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Coming Home to Island House by Erica James

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
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‘A week at Island House could change their lives forever…..’

Number 1 Bestselling author Erica James returns with her latest novel, Coming Home to Island House, published by Orion Books on 11th January 2018. Described as ‘an enchanting tale of one family coming together and finding their way’ , I was totally caught up in the story of this family torn apart by grief, sorrow and new beginnings.

Romily Temple and Jack Devereux, names from another era! Erica James takes the reader back to the summer of 1939. The world is about to be thrown into turmoil with the Nazi regime taking hold in Europe. There is a palpable fear among the people but for one family there is major upheaval on the horizon, as their lives are about to be changed in ways they had not ever imagined.

Romily Temple is a young, successful crime writer. She is not afraid of much and always believes that as long as you are breathing you should challenge yourself in life. For Romily life is all about the excitement, the next project, the latest car. Men have never lived up to her expectations, as few are ready to handle a woman with such a determined and strong-spirited personality. Romily never expected to find a man that would fulfill her but that was before she made the acquaintance of Jack Devereux. Many years her senior, Jack was just what Romily dreamed of. He was dashing, he was charming and he had that sense of adventure Romily loved. Jack, a widower, called home ‘Island House’, a place where his wife had passed away at a very young age and where he reared his three children as best he could. But for Jack, he never fully moved on from the grief he held close for his wife and as a result his children suffered over the years. Arthur, Kit and Hope never felt his love, only his anger, as he charged through life with a mission to succeed in business. Left in the care of various nannies over the years, resentment grew, creating a very fractured relationship among all family members.

For Jack and Romily life settles into a routine. With their ‘c’est la vie’ approach to life, Jack and Romily live together before finally getting married in a very private ceremony. Romily is so very happy with her life, until illness strikes and Jack is soon in a very bad way. It is now up to Romily to bring his children together and to face up to the inevitable.

Romily’s unexpected announcement that she is now their stepmother creates further disharmony with the family members, as she is seen as a money-digger claiming off their inheritance.

Erica James sets out a scenario that almost resembles a play, as various characters appear in and out of different scenes, each bringing a different atmosphere to the page.

Arthur is angry, very angry. He carries deep hatred in his heart and this has impacted every aspect and relationship in his life.

Kit, gentle Kit, is the boy who never grew up. Kit is still searching for the meaning of his life. He always hoped that he could make Jack notice him and make him proud.

Hope is a widow, having lost her German husband. Hope is a very tragic figure, with bitterness underlying her every action. Hope is unable to feel empathy with anyone anymore and lives a very bleak existence.

Then we have Allegra. Allegra is under the guardianship of Jack Devereux and has always grown up as an outsider in the family. With Italian blood pumping through her veins, Allegra has a fiery personality that leads her down some very fraught paths in life.

Mixed in with these family members, the reader is also introduced to many local folk, whose lives are inextricably tied into the family’s story.

Erica James has woven a complex tale, filled with all the quirks and eccentricities of human nature. Romily Temple is the person who must unravel these threads and weave a different story, while navigating her way through very choppy waters.

This is my first time reading a novel by Erica James and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to mention one small thing though. I know I shouldn’t, but I do judge many a book by it’s cover, and while the cover of Coming Home to Island House is very pretty, it is not a book I would have gravitated toward on a book shelf. How wrong I would have been!

Coming Home to Island House is a book about family, but it also a study of people and human nature. We are all influenced by our surroundings and in this novel we see the impact of grief on both adult and child. We are taken back to an era where the world is changing and where society is falling apart at the seams.

Coming Home to Island House is an absorbing read. The writing flows beautifully, with descriptions that jump off the pages, as we imagine living through those terrible years. Romily Temple is fabulous. Her attitude to living the best life possible is admirable. As for the Devereux children…did I like them? Certainly not all of them. But I did like the portrayal of them. Selfish, resentful, bitter, lost and sad. These are children who were prisoners of an upbringing that left them bereft and sullen, longing for recognition and a parent’s love.

Coming Home to Island House is very salient novel about family truths and hidden secrets, with a look back at an era, in the not so distant past, when war darkened the doorstep of many a heart and home.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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