Many congratulations to Victoria Walters on the publication of ‘Coming Home to Glendale Hall’! For those people who aren’t sure about reading Christmas books before December, I can assure you that this book is worth that commitment! Thank you to Hera for the ARC and to Rachel for the blog tour invite, here is my review:
No matter how far you go, home is where the heart is…
Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. After falling pregnant at sixteen, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate where she grew up rather than risk her family’s disapproval, working hard to build a life for herself and daughter Isabelle – but now she’s finally returning to Glendale Hall.
As Beth tries to mend her broken family ties, and fights to bring the community of Glendale back together, she realises that the story she has told herself for a decade might well be a very different one from the truth. Even though she ran from Glendale it has never left her heart. And, she soon realises, neither has Drew – Beth’s first love.
Will Beth be able to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? What will Drew say when he discovers the secret she’s been keeping from him for so long? Can a festive trail bring the village back together?
Will Christmas work its magic on Glendale – or will Beth be forced to run away from it all over again?
What does TWG think?
Do not be fooled by the incredibly beautiful, festive, cosy looking cover on this book! I’m not saying that the book isn’t any of that, it is, it’s just I underestimated just how much the story would pack a punch due to the cover. I was expecting a calm, rockin’ round the Christmas tree type of book, and instead I got a story which resonated with me on multiple levels and had my eyes feeling like snowflakes had melted on them. In other words, I ended up quite emotional towards the end.
Can you honestly tell me that you don’t feel the same when you look at the cover?! Massive kudos to the cover designer at Hera for their wonderful job though, it is such a stunner. Like I say, don’t be fooled though, there is so much more to ‘Coming Home to Glendale Hall’ than snow and snowmen. Trust me!
The author set the scene by describing Beth’s predicament, as she made her way back to her childhood home after ten long years away. What made Beth stay away for ten years? Why was she so nervous to cross the threshold again? The author divulged the answers to those questions quite slowly throughout the book, and at the same time we are made aware that the cracks in various relationships run a lot deeper than originally thought. Again, readers don’t know the reason for that until a little later on in the story. Of course, I won’t lie, I found it frustrating to be drip fed the information, however that was my own impatience letting me down. There was a very good reason as to why the author planned the story that way, and it did work. It made the truth have more of an intense impact that I don’t think would have been there had things been revealed earlier on.
I said above that I resonated with the story, and that is definitely true. Beth is a single mum, like me, and usually when single parents are mentioned in books, I get rather nervous due to the way that they are represented. Seriously, are we still in medieval times?! Thankfully (and I could hug the author for this), she wrote about single mothers like they should be written; like humans. We aren’t horrible people. We don’t deserve to be ridiculed for bringing up our children single handedly, whether its our choice to or not. I really appreciated how Beth was portrayed both as a mother and as a woman in her own right, and I’m sure that a lot of single parents will agree with me when I say THANK YOU for doing that.
‘Coming Home to Glendale Hall’ is a bit like Pandora’s box, except Christmassy….maybe it’s like a Christmas Eve Box. Anyway, several of the characters seemed to be holding the keys to their own boxes which held the answers to their secrets, and I’m sure that deep down, all of them knew that once those boxes were open, there would be no turning back.
There really wasn’t. I was shocked by the actions of several of the characters – I was angry for Beth and Isabelle! I know that my anger towards certain actions means absolutely diddly squat, but I just couldn’t help it. I really don’t know how the particular characters involved (yes, I’m not naming names) lived with themselves. I know that they had their own reasons, but just like the author makes abundantly clear via Beth, it wasn’t their choice to make. Not in the slightest.
‘Coming Home to Glendale Hall’ really gave me the chills (and no, I don’t mean because it was snowing in the book!), and it certainly gave me all the feels! Throughout the book I felt like I was at home, joining forces with a family who only wanted the best for each other, yet their communication left a lot to be desired. I loved being able to lose myself in the community spirit and being able to find my inner child again as Isabelle got excited for Christmas. You cannot beat the excitement of a child at Christmas, watching their eyes light up when seeing snow or the pretty lights. It may be something small, however things like that really do put things in perspective and I was so pleased to see that happen for Beth.
Victoria Walters, once again, writes a story with so much heart in it, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the book had been inspired by her own life. I adored the beautiful story telling, the outstanding seasonal descriptions and attention to detail, but most of all I adored the poignant and emotional underlying message of the entire story. We only die once, yet we live every single day – don’t live with regrets. Oh, and you can never have too many Christmas lights! Just beautiful.
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About the author.
Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. Her moving debut novel THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE was chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star. Her heart-warming new novel SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFE is available to download now.
As well as being an author, Victoria also works as a Waterstones bookseller and buys far too many books there. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry (named after Harry Potter). Victoria is not only obsessed with books but loves buying slogan tops, mugs and notebooks, and posting them all on Instagram.
You can discover more about Victoria – and find pictures of Harry the cat – by following her on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/.