What we thought: Jan Ruth’s novels are all set in one of my most favourite parts of the world, so before we get onto plot and characterisation we’re already onto a winner for me.
Protagonists, Kate and Al are poles apart as people and yet similar in many ways. Both approaching middle age, with the baggage and trauma that comes with extended families. Sensible, mature Kate is the antithesis of reckless, immature Al and yet …
It’s a clichéd love story in many ways … but without any of the clichés. Instead there are lots of secrets, intrigues, twists and turns along the way – guided by what feels a very competent author’s hand. It’s impossible not to bond with both of the lead characters, and like them as much for their flaws and failings as for their strengths. Somehow the fact we see both sides of their personalities makes them all so much more believable. Even the side characters – Fran, Jo, George and Maisie in particular – all leap from the page fully-formed and crystal clear.
The author uses her knowledge and love of Snowdonia and North Wales to full effect, not relying on postcard views to strengthen the scene, but showing us the area is all of its guises, from swollen rivers to windswept beaches to cloud-topped mountain landscapes.
Contemporary women’s fiction is not usually top of my reading pile but I loved this book. It was the first book I’d read by this author, but having sped through the novel in three sittings, I can’t wait to try another!
5 out of 5 stars.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Jo Jo Moyes, Catherine Cookson, Linda Gillard.
Avoid if you don’t like: Tangled family secrets and mid-life passions.
Accompaniments: A cold, crisp Sauvingnon Blanc and a slice of bara brith.