Welcome to our July book review. It’s my first time in the reviewing slot so I’ve had nearly a year to think about a book that I might like to review and what I’d say about it but I actually struggled to decide what to review. This is because I’ve been mainly reading books by The Write Romantics recently. It’s incredibly exciting reading the work of such a talented group of ladies but reviewing each other’s work wasn’t the aim of the book club so that rules out a lot of my reading matter. I’ve read several books by very well known and successful authors and I knew I wanted to review something by a debut or lesser-known writer so it ruled them out too. And I’ve read some books that I haven’t really enjoyed. I therefore found myself at the end of last month needing to announce my choice with no serious contenders. So I decided to take a punt.
I’ve watched the progress of Letting in Light by Emma Davies with extreme interest. At the time of writing this post, it’s currently riding high at number 253 in the paid Kindle chart which is phenomenal. It’s got a whopping 43 reviews, 33 of which are 5-star. This indie novel has been on promotion this month which has moved it up the chart a little higher and gathered more reviews than when I selected it as my review but it was still doing really well at the end of last month and I wanted to find out for myself what had made it so successful (and hopefully learn a trick or two to emulate the success!)
One of Emma’s greatest strengths in her writing is clearly her sense of place. She beautifully describes the lodge at Rowan Hill where our heroine, Ellie, sets up home. I can so vividly picture her fighting to cope with an Aga for the first time and shivering at the discovery of real fires (and no firewood) instead of central heating that I could be stood by her side (also shivering). The land around Rowan Hill is beautifully described too although I don’t really have a feel for what the estate house itself looks like.
The story itself is intriguing. I loved the dramatic start where the hero, Will, finds Ellie’s car in a ditch following a car crash and comes to her aid. What a great way for two characters to meet. Whilst it’s not pivotal to the plot, I am curious as to why Ellie had crashed her car. She’d been deeply hurt by the one person she thought she could trust. Had she just found out the truth and driven too quickly to seek solace with her best friend? As I said, though, it’s not pivotal (just me being nosey).
Ellie is fragile as a result of the betrayal and Will is fragile too although it’s a long way into the book before we fully find out why. This is a good thing because Emma reveals enough for the reader to believe they understand Will and then she throws in quite an unexpected reveal which actually made me gasp as I really hadn’t seen it coming at all. The book then take a slightly different direction as the true extent of the truth from Will’s past comes to light. I’m being a bit cagey, aren’t I? I don’t want to give away any spoilers!
There’s great dialogue, Ellie is a strong and feisty character, and there’s a lovely sense of community spirit as the book progresses. Great settings and fabulous premise.
I read through a few reviews before I wrote this and there’s a really interesting one from an editor called ‘The TBR Pile’ (who I don’t personally know but who states that she’s an editor during her review). It’s a 5-star review because she (an assumption on my part – may be a he) says she loved the book (which is what 5 star means on Amazon) but she points out something that I noticed which did jolt me out of the story. In fact, she uses the word ‘jolt’ too. This is in relation to the point of view. The story starts with the discovery of Ellie’s car crash by Will and it’s told from Will’s POV. The next chapter – and roughly the next half of the book – is told from Ellie’s POV. Then we get a paragraph from Will’s. Then it’s back to Ellie. Then it chops and changes a little and we have an unexpected POV from a character called Ben who appears at the start and then doesn’t reappear until about two thirds of the way through. These changes – particularly Ben’s POV – took me by surprise and, as I said, jolted me out of the story. However, once I settled into it, I was back on track and back into the story, intrigued to know which twists and turns would come next.
Emma is actually a guest on our blog in a couple of weeks’ time and I can’t wait to hear all about the inspiration behind Letting in Light, what she has planned next, and, of course, the secrets behind such a successful debut. Congratulations, Emma, on your success and good luck with book two. We’ll follow your career (and your writing) with support and great interest.
Next month, Alys West will be reviewing The Property of a Gentleman by Catherine Gaskin.
Rowan Hill. Come first out of curiosity, explore as a guest, return as a friend.
When Ellie arrives at Rowan Hill all she wants is peace and quiet and a place to lick her wounds, but fate it would seem has other things in mind for her.
Firstly there’s Will, who has a reputation for being a humourless grumpy loner; things would be perfect if everyone would just leave him and his estate alone. Is he just plain grumpy, or is it the big fat secret he’s keeping that makes him act the way he does?
Then there’s Finn, who’s drop dead gorgeous, but who ran away from his past. He’s now planning a return home to Rowan Hill, and although he knows Will’s secret, he’s not about to tell Ellie. Is it loyalty to his brother that keeps him quiet, or perhaps it’s just that he has a few secrets of his own?
The perfect solution for all of them is staring Ellie in the face, trouble is she’s been accused of meddling before. Her vision for Rowan Hill could be just what everyone needs, so should she follow her heart or her head?
As Ellie puts her plans to save Rowan Hill into action, romance and friendships blossom, however the complications of the past are never far away, and a shocking revelation soon threatens their hopes for the future. Suddenly the beliefs they once held true become the biggest obstacle they have to overcome. Will Ellie find the courage to learn from the truth and finally let a little light into all their lives.
After all, life, like art, is all about perception, and sometimes it just depends on your point of view….