Isabel Delancey’s husband Laurent is killed in a car crash and for the first time in her life she has to provide both emotionally and financially for their two children, the teenage Kitty and her younger brother Thierry. After a visit from the lawyer Isabel realises that she is going to have to move house.
Meanwhile in Norfolk a house becomes vacant at just the right time and Isabel moves her family from London to the depths of the country and a derelict house. Matt and Laura McCarthy are her neighbours but what the unworldly Isobel doesn’t realise is that they have wanted the house for years. The reader can easily predict that the McCarthy’s are not going to take the loss of the house without a fight and sure enough their twisted sense of ownership leads to some serious unpleasantness, however their teenage son is more interested in getting to know Kitty.
As the renovations start on the dilapidated Spanish House Isabel faces one crisis after another but slowly we witness Isabel’s slow realisation that she has to behave like an adult and actually start looking after her children. Thierry who hasn’t spoken since his father died needs help and Kitty is too young to be expected to look after both her mother and brother. At night Isabel plays her beloved violin whilst accepting that she can’t jet off round the world performing as she used to.
Out of all the Jojo Moyes books I’ve read this falls most firmly into the chick-lit category with the beautiful and talented Isabel ripe for that knight in shining armour, however, the plot had sufficient unexpected twists to keep my interest and that was coupled with the author’s trademark interesting, but on the right side of believable, characters. The author takes so much care over her minor characters so that I felt that I knew so many of the villagers; I could visualise the village shop presided over by the gossipy sweet gay men.
This really is perfect holiday reading with the book moving along at a good pace with different strands of the story coming to a satisfactory conclusion although I don’t think this has the depth of her more recent novels.
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