Sunday, 28 February 2021

Book Review: Close to Home by Janet Gover

Close to Home
by
Janet Gover
 
A story of community and family. Of the love that brings them together...and the fears that would tear them apart.
 

 

Imprint: Mira - AU
Publication date: 3rd February 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 368
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
About the book
 
Aunt Alice Dwyer loves her small Australian town. She's rarely left its comforting embrace. She knows everyone in it; in fact, she's related to most of them. All she wants is to keep her family safe and the town running exactly the way it always has. Her way. But when an exotic French artist comes to town, her hold begins to weaken...

Lucienne Chevalier, once the toast of Europe, has come to Nyringa after a tragic loss to hang up her sequins and create a place for her circus family to rest between tours. With her is Simon, her grandson, recovering from an injury so damaging he can no longer perform. Lucienne fears he'll never embrace a new future. That is, until she notices the chemistry between him and the new schoolteacher... All they need is a push.

Both grande dames think they know what's best, but with equal amounts of stubbornness on both sides, peace looks unlikely. Then a relationship between Alice's rebellious great-niece and a teenage acrobat sets the two communities on a collision course. But when the bakery starts making patisseries over lamingtons, the battle lines are truly drawn...
 
 
My review
 
Ever since reading The Wild One I have been a big fan of Janet Gover's novels. She has proven over the years to have quite diverse writing skills, touching on themes that concern small town communities and are also relatable in a broader sense. 
 
Close to Home starts with a short prologue featuring a teenaged Alice and it was good to get an insight into this young, fun Alice before she grew to be the proud and proper 80 year old we see in the following story.
 
Close to Home centres on two strong women, both matriarchs of their large families. Heartbreak features strongly in both their lives. Whilst Alice's is an old wound that she can't seem to let go of and it still shapes her decisions and attitudes, Lucienne's is fresh and soul destroying however she knows to move forward she must heal. I did feel one was more superficial than the other but to these two women the hurt was equal.
 
When the circus comes to stay in Nyringa the wariness of newcomers is raised and judging people before getting to know them which can often happen in small towns where change is feared. I loved all the circus details, how circuses had changed over the years and the love and commitment the performers have for what they do. I think this will have many readers on a nostalgic trip back to their childhood.

Gover redefines family with Alice and her large hoard of nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and Lucienne declaring that every performer in her circus is part of her family. Family is more than your own immediate flesh and blood.

Two sweet and subtle romances weave through this story of acceptance and moving forward. Young love is instant and all consuming, as it often is, and has a Romeo and Juliet-ish feel. The other couples feeling are slower to develop and more wary to open up to each other. I thought both romances were realistic and well executed.

I could go on and on but no one wants a long wordy review so I will suffice to say that Close to Home is a story about family, relationships, community, new friendships, new beginnings, love lost and love found. And a great read!!

5/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Janet Gover grew up in outback Australia, surrounded by wide open spaces, horses...and many, many books.
She is a self-confessed 'bit of a geek girl'. When not writing novels she works in IT - in really dull places like Pinewood Movie Studios, Puerto Rico and Iraq

When her cat actually lets her sit in her chair, she writes stories of strong women, rural communities and falling in love. Her novel Little Girl Lost won the Epic Romantic Novel of the Year Award presented by the Romantic Novelist's Association in the UK, and she has won or been shortlisted for awards in Australia and the USA.

As Juliet Bell, in collaboration with Alison May, she rewrites misunderstood classic fiction, with an emphasis on heroes who are not so heroic.
Her favourite food is tomato. She spends too much time playing silly computer games, and is an enthusiastic, if not always successful, cook.

 
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