Home Front is a nail-biter from beginning to end. The descriptions of Jolene’s daily life in the military, which are likely far more horrific for a real-life soldier than what Hannah describes in the book, are both compelling and heart-wrenching. Jolene Zarkades is a fictional Army helicopter pilot, but her story reflects the all-too-real experience of servicemen and women trying to return to their families after a life-changing tour of duty.
When Mbala reaches his brother with two of his wives, one falls in love with him adding to their internal struggle. The differences, jealousy and dishonesty propel these two brothers into a struggle with violence of epic proportions. This was truly the best part of the book.
Let me come clean and admit that I didn’t quite follow the plot; indeed, in places I found it quite perplexing. But I read on because I was held by le Carre’s world, precarious and peril-ridden. He writes at one point that ‘silence, not gunfire, was the natural element of the approaching enemy’ and he uses this element too.
Pattillo includes enough references to important British landmarks to keep both Anglophiles and Jane Austen fans engaged in the plot. The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is a fun and intelligent nod to the great novelist, and modern-day audiences may want to read out Austen’s works to understand why she remains such an inspiration to today’s writers.
White is purposeful in her choice of setting. While Julie and the Guidrys rebuild their lives—both together and separately—they come together to physically rebuild the Guidrys’ beach house, River Song. The house will come to represent a new beginning for everyone, although as Monica’s grandmother Aimee explains, rebuilding and starting over is nothing new for the Gulf Coast residents—it’s simply a part of life.
If You Go Into the Woods is probably not best suited to readers who prefer their stories neatly boxed with all the answers lined up. But for those readers who, like me, love punchy, entertaining reads with a bit of mental gymnastics thrown in, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Through her nostalgic but realistic lens, readers may find themselves looking at their own hometowns in a new way—one that is not the idyllic memory of childhood, but more true to life, warts and all. It is clear that Pedersen makes no apologies for Buffalo’s hardscrabble past, but instead chooses to celebrate the unique spirit and character of her hometown.
Having experienced domestic violence first hand and gone on to work with the perpetrators of such violence, there is no one better equipped than Meyers to write a story like this. I would categorise, The Murderer’s Daughters as faction—a skilful blending of fact and fiction.
Hannah writes firmly in the present, putting the readers in both Jude and Lexi’s thoughts at the moment of her narration. Even though Hannah makes many references to painful events in her characters’ pasts, she doesn’t delve into those moments with any great depth.
Winter Garden is a novel with many layers. Hannah uses a fanciful fairy tale as the link between a mother and her daughters—this is the key that will unlock the secrets that have been hiding in Nina and Meredith’s mother’s past for decades.