Sean’s seemingly perfect life crumbles when his adored wife Belle throws him out to start a new life with the Other. Sean had no idea of his wife’s unhappiness and struggles to cope without her and his young daughter, Amy. He rents a room in a house with Fen and her little boy Connor. Fen leads a secluded life based on work and the care of her boy. She’s moved away from family and friends to hide a guilty secret involving her brother. Both characters have difficulties in moving on but circumstances bring them together and they begin to find some happiness.
I do worry about second book syndrome, (I couldn’t quite forgive Victoria Hislop when The Return didn’t quite live up to my expectations after The Island – sad, but true!) but I didn’t need to worry with Louise Douglas. It has a similar thoughtfully wistful, sad tone as “The Love of my Life” (which I also loved!) The story starts slowly and in less capable hands there would be a danger of both Fen and Sean of being a bit pathetic and self-indulgent. However, despite there not being a lot of action through the story the sensitive and well created characters drive it on. Sean grows on you as he gradually accepts the changes in his life and falls in love with Fen. Fen is less straightforward; the guilty secret that has made her create her own seclusion is fairly predictable, but also understandable. She grows into a whole person by the end and appears much younger and lively than she does at the beginning. Belle is suitably shallow (as she needed to be for the plot to work) a spoilt brat that hasn’t grown up and still doesn’t know what she wants, I simply couldn’t understand what Sean loved about her in the first place apart from being a great beauty. I loved the character of Sean’s sister Lola and would have liked to know about her and her back story (another book?!)
Beautifully written and wistful – I loved it!