Saturday, 28 January 2017

Book Review - Somebody Else's Boy by Jo Bartlett - Back Catalogue Books - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Kent

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

This week I am reviewing Somebody Else's Boy, which is the first of the St. Nicholas Bay series, and book two is already available. 
Amazon UK
Title: Somebody Else's Boy
Author: Jo Bartlett
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Accent Press
Publication Date: 25th August 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

Will Nancy and Jack be allowed to embrace the future, or will their histories forever bind them to the past?

Drama teacher Nancy O’Brien puts her ambitions on hold to support her family, and returns to her idyllic seaside home town, St Nicholas Bay. Jack has his own reasons for heading to the Bay; a young widower desperate to come to terms with his loss, he hopes setting up home there with baby son, Toby, might just enable him to survive the future.

As Nancy and Jack become closer, not everyone is thrilled, in particular Toby’s grandmother, who can’t bear to see her late daughter ‘replaced’. When Fraser– the only man Nancy’s ever really loved – reappears, her living arrangements with Jack seem set for disaster.

Logically the best place to start to talk about this book is with St. Nicholas Bay, which turns out is a fictional town in Kent. I say that because I was so convinced the town had to be real from the detailed descriptions of it, and its history, that I went onto google to find out more about it, especially since the town has connections with Dickens, but then discovered that apart from a hotel in Greece sharing the name, it really is a fictional setting. 

And what a setting it is, as has a real small, community minded,  town feel to it, which is especially evidenced by the new theatre group , and their first production, the Cinderella pantomime that has been changed slightly to fit in with the towns connections to Charles Dickens. 

The theatre group has been started by best friends Nancy and Olivia, although after a very specific and hilarious incident, they aren't really best friends any more. In fact in a short space of time, Nancy has lost her best friend, and her fiancee, and needs to find somewhere else to live. 

Jack who edits the panto, is a single father to 9 month old Toby, who tragically has found himself widowed and has moved to St. Nicholas Bay, as a change of scenery. He comes to the rescue and offers Nancy a place to live, so long as she is ok to do some babysitting, while Jack is at work at his new job, teaching creative writing, at the same place Nancy works. 

There are some tough topics dealt with in a very realistic way, which include grief and moving on, and alzheimer's, as well as domestic abuse, but not in as much depth.  With each new topic introduced into the story, I found myself enjoying it more and more, despite the not overly joyous nature of the conditions, because the writing was endearing me so much to the characters, they just gained new depths and felt more real with these obstacles to overcome. 

Yet with the seriousness of some of the book, there was also many humorous moments which kept the book on its toes, and pace moving along steadily.  

I loved Jack and Toby and would love to see more of them both. Toby is the most adorable baby, generally quite well behaved, and is very happy playing, or giving people he likes, big grins. Jack is of course grieving for Alice, has his mother-in-law's grief to handle too, and yet also feels guilty at how this life starts to turn out, especially with Nancy living with him, which in a purely platonic sense alleviates some loneliness. 

Somebody Else's Boy is an uplifting story, written in a style I enjoyed reading, and is a good mix of fun and more serious moments. 

Thank you to Jo Bartlett for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

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