Louisa George doesn’t shy away from the big emotions or the big issues in her latest book, The Secret Art Of Forgiveness.
Love, grief, the trials and tribulations of stepfamilies and the sensitive issue of dementia are just some of the themes in this page-turner – and she handles them all, especially the latter, with a wonderfully eloquent touch that often brought tears to my eyes.
The story follows Emily Forrester’s return home to the quaint picture-postcard English village of Little Duxbury, which she fled as a tearaway teenager.
In the intervening years she has reinvented herself as a capable, respectable, go-getting New York advertising exec but she soon finds it is impossible to escape her past.
After years of sporadic contact she is called home by her stepsisters, who initially seem straight out of Cinderella, to look after their ailing father, The Judge.
Emily has lots of memories of him – the majority of them bad – but his dementia means he rarely remembers his stepdaughter, which allows them to reconnect in ways that might otherwise have been impossible.
Throw in a new fiancé back in New York, a crumbling old house to fix, an attractive neighbour with his own demons, a village festival to organise (not to mention years of hurt in all sorts of places to overcome) and you have a story that had me smiling as much as tearing up.
While some of the issues seemed resolved a little bit too quickly, given how long they had been festering, overall the book, or rather the characters in it, stayed with me long after I had finished reading, which is the sign of great writing in my view.
Price (Sept 2016): 99p
My rating: Four stars.
Thank you to Carina UK for the copy (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.