Wednesday 19 November 2014

Review: A Place For Us by Harriet Evans

A Place For Us by Harriet Evans
Headline Review
Release date:
15 January 2015
Rating: *****

Back cover blurb: The day Martha Winter set in motion the chain of events that would tear apart her own family began like any other… Siblings Bill, Florence and Daisy Winter are alarmed when they receive an invitation to their mother’s 80th birthday party. It’s this line that worries them: ‘There will be an important announcement’. What on earth has their mother planned now? Life’s hard enough as it is without anything else to upset the applecart. Florence will have to make a special trip back home – she ran away to Italy almost twenty years ago, and buried herself in her history of art studies in order to forget her troublesome family. It’s not been so easy for Bill. He’s stayed close to his parents, like the good son he is. As the trusted village doctor, he is loved by all, his wife excepted. She’s playing away… And what of Daisy? No-one dares speak of her... contd... 

A Place For Us is a novel that I was alerted to (very kindly) by it's publishers, Headline Review. I was invited to read 'Part One' via netgalley back in July, and from the first page I was hooked. I initially read all four parts of the serialisation separately and then went back (in between other reads) to read it all as one novel so that I could recall certain parts to ensure my review was fair, but it works well as either a full novel or serialisation as the characters and plot line are so well written.

 Part One - Martha Winter is about to turn Eighty, an occasion which she wants (understandably) to celebrate with the rest of her family. Most of her family members however are no longer local to Winterfold, the Winter residence, and so Martha has to send invitations for her party far and wide. Invitations that include a promise that a special announcement will be made. The invitations are received with mixed reactions and each family member is introduced to us in turn, chapter by chapter as we learn their reaction. The family itself seems complex, each of them harbouring their own secrets as they try to fathom what Martha's announcement could be. Part One ends with a cliffhanger that will leave you impatient to begin Part Two...

Part Two - Having been introduced to the Winter family in Part One, Part Two sees the arrival of family members at Winterfold in preparation for Martha's Birthday party. For some members of the family this goes less smoothly than others, and we see some awkward introductions made that shape future relationships/friendships in the novel. Part Two continues with the story being told from a different characters viewpoint and this helps us to get to know the characters that little bit better. Most of the characters are likeable but each has their own quirk that will delight or frustrate. Martha I think has the unique ability to do both, particularly when she delivers her revelation, only for it to have devastating consequences for one family member.

Part Three - The fall out from Martha's revelation and the devastating event that occurred at the party is the dominating theme in Part Three of A Place For Us. Here we find it's characters true strengths and this part in particular for me was where the serialisation really gathered momentum. We see who is able to cope with the revelations and who is less able. But will they return to the heart of the family, Martha and the beautiful Winterfold, or will they continue to stay away? Part Three is where the characters relationships with each other are really explored and some secrets that have been kept for decades are slowly exposed as we begin reasons behind certain behaviours.

Part Four - is all about picking up the pieces and tying up the loose ends of the novel. Those friendships/relationships that we have questioned throughout are either cemented or broken. But will the family ever be together as one again, or has Martha shattered everything? Part Four for me was a satisfying conclusion, and whilst I don't want to give too much away in my review, I would urge anyone reading this to pre-order a copy and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.

As an aside, I think A Place For Us would make for a wonderful film or TV series, and I can't wait to read more from this author.

A Place For Us is available to pre-order now from the publishers Headline and Amazon online or you can also buy Parts 1 -4 of the serialisation via the above methods..

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A huge thank you to Headline for approving each part via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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