I’m delighted to be reviewing a beautiful new book today, and also to be giving away a signed copy – read more to see how you can enter my giveaway!
I’ve historically been an action book kind of girl, whether historical, psychological, thriller or dystopian, but more recently I’ve been enjoying more character-driven novels, especially those in the women’s fiction categories: up-lit, commercial, literary. So I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour for Katherine Blessan’s brand new book, Home Truths with Lady Grey. The first thing I noticed was the warm and inviting cover – the idea of sitting down, putting my feet up and having a cuppa while getting to know Katherine’s characters had me rushing to the kettle as the book downloaded.
I was immediately drawn in. The characters were well-drawn from the first page, and, as someone who suffers with chronic illness, the very first paragraph gripped me:
My world is narrowing, constricting down to the thin end of a funnel. There is a small hole at the bottom for a few grains of sand to trickle down, but that’s the extent of it. My bedroom walls are the playground for my mind.Home Truths with Lady Grey by Katherine Blessan
This description of a life narrowed by disease resonated and called me further in.
In the book we meet Jennifer who works in a doctor’s surgery. Jennifer is a fascinating character, balancing loneliness, stubbornness and vulnerability, and early on in the book we realise that she is struggling with weakness in her body. At first, she doesn’t want to admit it. She’s a strong person, loves to run and be busy, and has no time for sickness in her life. But as her symptoms progress, she has no choice but to ask for help – and get her shattering diagnosis. That’s when we meet her carer, Mona, a woman from an Iranian background with a cosy but complicated back story.
What I love about this book is that it isn’t just about a woman with a progressive disease. It’s a book that takes some ordinary people and delves into their lives, their motivations, their fears and their hopes. Written from several points of view, we journey with Mona as she tries to find her way in life with her husband, James, who has a gambling problem, and their two-year-old daughter. We are taken through the book in a series of flashbacks and present-day narrative, with what has gone before informing what we know now about Jennifer and Mona and how they relate to one another. Jennifer is the prickly one; she doesn’t really want help at all, not even from her relatives and best friend, who only want to stand with her. She’s fiercely independent, and Mona is a reminder to her of her weakness, at first. But as they talk together her mask begins to slip and she is able to share, and Mona, too, is drawn into this unlikely friendship.
It’s a book that covers so many areas of human life: illness, addiction, fear, faith, death, love, and it’s all written with a sensitive and nuanced touch, with believable dialogue and vividly drawn settings. It’s a book that drew me in, not for action sequences or tense narrative, but for its celebration of the ordinary and beautiful rendering of what it really means to be human, in all its messiness. The word-pictures of Mona’s and Jennifer’s childhoods particularly stood out to me, bringing me right into their worlds and leaving me rooting for them all the way through.
It’s a story of inclusion and ultimately of hope through uncertainty and suffering. I liked Katherine’s gentle but powerful explorations of faith through the book – through kindly characters and gentle dialogue, leaving the reader wanting more. I’d fully recommend it for a gentle and warm but also hard-hitting and powerful read.
You can buy the Kindle edition now on Amazon, and the paperback edition here through Katherine’s website. And I have a signed copy to give away! All you have to do is sign up to my mailing list (you’ll get a free copy of my Bible study book, A Tale of Beauty from Ashes, and 16 printable prayers for contentment, too) – or leave a comment if you’re already part of my community. Do share this post so more people can find out about this fantastic new book, Home Truths with Lady Grey.A gentle, heart-warming but hard-hitting read: Home Truths with Lady Grey by @kathblessan – Book Review and Giveaway of a signed copy of this lovely new book. Click To Tweet