“What is it about homecoming that can strip a person of all that they have become?”
Eve – the eldest of the three Sorrell sisters, is married and the mother to two young girls. She is a planner, a perfectionist, dependable, and ‘the responsible one’. Though Eve feels stressed and has secrets of her own…
Lucy – the middle sister is a lovely young woman who owns her own yoga and wellness studio. Always the optimist of the family, Lucy is the gregarious sister who excelled at sports. Now, she has found the love of her life and is soon to be married.
Margot – the youngest sister, left home under a dark cloud when she was sixteen. This is her first time back at Windfalls – to attend her sister Lucy’s wedding. Eight years ago Margot suffered an extreme trauma which she hasn’t told anyone about. How she reacted to that trauma at the time has alienated her family – especially her mother. She now works as a library assistant in Edinburgh where she shares a flat.
Kit – the mother of the Sorrell sisters, is a bestselling novelist. Her career has distanced her from her daughters and has eroded her relationship with the girls’ father. Now she is fifty-three years old and lives in Windfalls by herself with only an aged cat for company. She is lonely and full or regret.
Ted – the father, once an esteemed playwright, fell into the shadow of Kit’s success. For years, suffering from writer’s block, he ran the household and was responsible for the majority of the parental duties. Feeling ignored and invisible, he left the family home and is now married to Sibella, a potter.
Windfalls – is the wonderful old stone farmhouse where the Sorrell sisters grew up. Situated on the banks of the river Avon amidst an apple orchard, the house fairly reeks of atmosphere. Near the bottom of the orchard there is an old iron gate that opens onto the towpath of the river.What happened all those years ago to make Margot leave home? Why can’t her mother forgive her? We are drip-fed the details of what happened via periodic flashback chapters.
“There is a braveness in living. There is strength in carrying on.”
This author’s “The Peacock Summer” was one of my favourite reads last year, so I was eagerly anticipating “The River Home“. I’ve come to know that Hannah Richell writes heart-warming, sometimes heart-breaking family sagas that are rich in character and this book more than lived up to its predecessor.
Set in beautiful Somerset, the action of the novel takes place during September and the weeks surrounding the autumn equinox. The sense of place, and how people can have tenaciously strong attachments to their family home permeates the story.
The Sorrel family were easy to understand and even easier to imagine. Although the family was a little unusual and more than a little damaged, they had their own share of loves, regrets, betrayals, pain, recriminations, tensions, secrets, and worries. No family can endure and remain unscathed.
The book reminds us that life is short so we must love and live while we can. It also reminds us that we all want to be ‘seen‘ – acknowledged – made to feel important in some small way.
Highly recommended to those readers who enjoy character-rich family drama woven into a engrossing plot!
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from HarperCollins via Edelweiss. ISBN: 9780063001602 ASIN: B07ZZ6T55D 368 pages
Hannah Richell was born in Kent and spent her childhood years in Buckinghamshire and Canada. After graduating from the University of Nottingham she worked in the book publishing and film industries.
She began to write in 2007 while pregnant with her first child. The result was Secrets of the Tides, which was picked for the 2012 Richard & Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and was shortlisted for the Australian Independent Bookseller Best Debut Fiction Award, ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year (2013) and ABIA Newcomer of the Year (2013). The novel was translated into fifteen languages.
Her second novel was The Shadow Year, her third was The Peacock Summer, and The River Home is her fourth novel.
Hannah Richell is a dual citizen of the UK and Australia, though she currently lives in the South West of England with her family.