Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Book Review - The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #EastSussex

Amazon UK
Title:  The Lavender House
Author: Hilary Boyd
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 9th February 2017
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy's babysitting services, it seems Nancy's fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark. 
But Nancy's family don't trust Jim one bit. They're convinced he'll break her heart, maybe run off with her money - he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family's side and walk away from one last chance for love?

Massive story taking in four generations of the de Freitas family. Nancy is the lynchpin of her family, if anything or anyone has a problem she drops everything to help them. She seems resigned to the fact that she will be running around after others for ever. 

Nancy's mother Frances is in her eighties, and is clearly hiding an illness from the rest of the family. She doesn't want to be a burden, but equally definitely needs some extra TLC. She also takes an instant dislike to the new many in Nancy's life. 

Louise, Nancy's daughter is married with two children of her own. Louise seems to have taken her parents separation hard, even three years after the even, and seems to be an all around selfish person. She nags her husband, but also drops everything to step in when there are problems with their restaurant, leaving Nancy having to cancel her own plans regularly to babysit her grandkids. 

Everything starts to change in their lives, when Nancy meets Jim, who is a country and western singer, and also teaches line dancing. He reminds me a lot of an aging cowboy rocker, and despite being I'd say a generation older than me, I couldn't help but fall for him myself in a way. He is a lovely man, but Nancy's family don't exactly agree. 

I really felt for Nancy for most of the book, as it is clear she is being pulled in multiple directions by everyone close to her. She just wants to do the right thing by everyone. Whereas I really didn't take to her daughter and mother, who both just seem incredibly selfish, and no one really seemed to care about Nancy's happiness. 

I found this was a slow starter, due to the amount of generations involved, and trying to work out just who fitted into the family where. Once that was sorted in my mind, I was able to sit back and enjoy the book more. The sections from Frances point of view I found fascinating, as when you can see what she was really thinking privately, instead of how she is portrayed when around the family, I couldn't help but have a new found respect for her, even if I still wasn't that keen on her character. 

I just found most of the de Freitas family to be utterly infuriating and it was starting to drive me mad. When the Lavender House was introduced I honestly thought  the book was taking a much welcome change of direction and location from East Sussex to France, but it didn't turn out how I was expecting in any respects. It is always nice to be surprised, but I think I just found a lot of the book quite hard going, in amongst the enjoyment. 

Taking place over a year in time, this is a story predominately of the older generations, which may be way I struggled a bit connecting with some of the characters, or fully empathising with them. On one level I could understand exactly what was happening but on another, I felt that I lacked the life experiences to fully be immersed in this story. 

Thank you to Quercus and Netgalley for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

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