Thursday 10 June 2021

The Long Way Home - Fanny Blake

A family secret, a mysterious legacy, and a journey that will change everything…
When Isla, a 65-year-old grandmother, is left nothing but an old painting in her mother’s will, while her sisters and aunt inherit the estate, she is devastated. Close to retirement, getting ready to live on her own terms, the last thing she expects at this time of her life is such turmoil. So, to find an explanation for her mother’s rejection, she embarks on a road-trip.
But, right at the last moment, she’s forced to take her sullen – and, in her view, impossible – 14-year-old granddaughter Charlie with her. Cramped together in Isla’s car with her smelly old dog, these ill-assorted travelling companions set off to uncover some shattering and life-changing family truths at the same time as learning to love each other…
The Long Way Home is set in the UK and 1950s Paris where the story really begins, spanning four generations of women and the secrets that get passed down through them.

What did I think?

It's actually really refreshing to read a novel with an older protagonist as it just shows that it doesn't matter what age you are, you are still faced with the same problems and suffer the same insecurities.  In 65-year-old Isla's case, just because you're older doesn't mean you're wiser and it's no surprise that Isla is thrown into a tizz when she is treated differently to her sisters in their mother's will.

Isla has always had a strained relationship with her mother but that doesn't explain why her two sisters and her aunt should inherit her mother's house when all she has been left is a painting.  As you would expect, there are one or two arguments among the siblings so Isla decides to take a trip back home to Scotland to patch up the relationship between her sisters and hopefully get to the bottom of the mystery of her inheritance.  

Unfortunately, Isla has to take an unwilling companion with her in the form of her 14-year-old granddaughter Charlie.  A typical teenager, Charlie is glued to her phone and barely says a positive word, making the trip more of a chore than a pleasure.  As the trip progresses it was lovely to see Isla and Charlie's relationship grow and it felt like Charlie unfurled like a flower with just a little bit of nurturing and some TLC.  That is until Isla's new boyfriend turned up to upset the balance.

I really liked Isla but I cringed at some of the decisions she made, although it's understandable with so much going on in her life.  I also loved May's story set in 1950s Paris and thought I had it all worked out but I was delighted to find that I was completely wrong.  Fanny Blake's wonderfully vivid writing brings her characters to life and I felt like I was drinking coffee in the cafés of Paris and actually sitting in the car with Isla, Charlie and stinky Jock.  

Beautifully heartwarming, captivating and intriguing, The Long Way Home is a fabulous summer read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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