By Erica James
Published by Orion (11 January 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy through the Lovereading Readers' Panel.
It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.
But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.
With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?
I smiled my way through Coming Home to Island House, with its uplifting writing and gentle humour. Not many books give me a warm feeling inside, but this one certainly did.
Author Romily Temple, who is used to leading an independent adventurous lifestyle, and her dysfunctional stepfamily are thrown together unexpectedly after Romily's husband Jack falls ill. His family have grown apart over the years. Not only do they not know Jack married Romily but they hadn't even met her - so this is a shock when they arrive. Each member of the family is very distinctive, with their own little quirks and beliefs, creating a diverse array of characters. It's their diversity that keeps this story flowing, as they learn to accept one another for who they are - and as Romily copes with her new role in life.
This book is about family dynamics and sibling relationships but also political uncertainty at a time of war. The story takes place mainly in the UK, but also covers the situation in Germany and Italy, highlighting the plight of Jews as the Nazi movement rises in Europe. In many ways, the book's theme is war itself - between family members and also countries - and the impact it has on people's lives.
I highly recommend Coming Home to Island House if you're looking for an easy read - perfect for cold winter nights with a mug of hot chocolate at your side. Go on... treat yourself!