A Place for Us by Harriet Evans

'Come on, old girl. It's time.'

Title - A Place for Us
Author - Harriet Evans 
Publication Date - 15th January 2015
Publisher - Headline Review
Format - Paperback (Self-purchased)
Pages - 448

The blurb

When Martha, a wife and mother of three, sits down one late summer's morning to write out the invitations to her eightieth birthday celebration, she knows that what she is planning to reveal at the party could ruin the idyllic life she and her husband David have spent over fifty years building...

But she has to let her family know what she and David have sacrificed. She can't live a lie any more.

The invitation goes out far and wide, calling her three children and their families back home to Winterfold, their rambling house in the heart of the English countryside. They are Bill, the doctor; Florence, the eccentric academic; and Daisy, the child who never fit in. As the story unfolds, each character reveals the secrets, joys, and tragedies they are wrestling with through the confines of the family. What will happen when Martha finally tells the truth? 

Becca's thoughts

First thing first... THAT COVER! Gah, it is so effortlessly beautiful, like a watercolour painting, something that you'd find hanging in an antique frame in a big old house. The sort of painting that would catch your attention, without a doubt. I adore the cover for this book, and stroked it numerous times, I'll admit it. Also, after finishing A Place for Us, the stunning home in the background holds a hell of a lot more of a meaning to me. This book focuses on Winterfold, and all of those people who are connected to it. 

For me, A Place for Us got off to SUCH a fabulous start. I was absolutely captivated by Martha, and the secrets that she so obviously held inside. Before the story had even truly begun, I was dying to know what Martha had kept away from her family for all of these years, and this need to find out propelled me forwards throughout the first part of the book. It was such a fantastic pull, and it had me turning the pages at a ridiculously fast pace, because I just couldn't wait to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, for me, I experienced a lull about half-way through, and I just wasn't able to get back into it. There was a such a wide range of characters and settings within this book, and despite being gorgeously descriptive and allowing me a perfect image in my mind, I just felt that I had lost that tug that at first was pulling me along. Imagine a piece of string, and you're holding onto the end of it. I feel that amid the characters and the settings, I lost the end of the string and just couldn't find it again! I felt that I wasn't given enough time with each of the characters and their separate lives to get to know them well enough. Just when I felt that I was beginning to get to grips with each character and their circumstances, I was handed back another character, and this, I feel, prevented me from feeling any sort of powerful connection to each of them. 

That's not to say that the characters were useless, because in fact, the complete opposite is the case. The characters were structured so well, with such a remarkable depth to each of them, I felt quite saddened by the fact that I never felt close enough to truly understand them. With so many characters, so many different lives in different places, I began to feel a little muddled with who was who, and where they were. I felt that Martha and Bill, mother and father of the Winter family, were the characters were managed to stay with me throughout the book, the ones who I could familiarise myself with. When it came to their children, this was where the problems arose. Bill, Cat, and Florence, and their own offspring, too. Well, not really 'problems', more confusions on my part. Now, I absolutely adore stories which focus on huge families and the dramas and the secrets, having such a huge family of my own it feels so close to me, but once I hit that lull in the middle, I found it such a struggle to continue. 

But, it's not all doom and gloom, because actually, once I'd passed the lull in the middle, and when the strings of the plot were being tied up, I managed to get back into it. A bit late, I know, but better late than never, right? I feel that by this point, I had as much of a grasp of the characters as I'd ever be able to have . Watching all of the dramas slowly come to an end, experiencing that relief of things being calm and serene once more at Winterfold... It was lovely. 

Despite all of the above, Harriet's writing was fantastic. Her descriptions, the dialogue, I really enjoyed those parts. I also took a strong liking to the whole idea behind the story, and when certain secrets were revealed, I definitely emitted a little gasp! I feel that maybe, for me, the story of Winterfold may have been a little drawn out in places, and at times I felt like I forcing myself to carry on. This, however, will not put me off reading any of Harriet's future novels. As is evident in the book, the author has a stunning way with words that I'm certain I would enjoy in other titles. So, today, Becca's Books is rating A Place for Us by Harriet Evans with three cupcakes! 


1 comment :

  1. I thought your review was throrough and well-thought-out. You noted what you felt were the drawbacks while still making me want to go out and read the book (I looked on Amazon US, by the way, and the cover is very different, but still beautiful!). Harriet Evans is a new-to-me author and I'm looking forward to reading her work. Realy well done!!