15/02/2010

Coming Home (by Melanie Rose)

I'd never heard of Melanie Rose, but when I was sent her latest book by 'The Bookbag' site, I thought it looked quite appealing. The cover told me that fans of Cecelia Ahern or Sophie Kinsella would enjoy it, so I was expecting light chick-lit with perhaps a bit of humour, and possible a hint of the surreal.

The first chapter leapt straight into the story. The narrator - an unnamed woman - is driving through increasingly bad weather conditions with her cat, and her car is packed full of all her possessions. She's evidently made some momentous decision recently, and is on her way - with some misgivings - to somewhere new. But instead of arriving at her destination, she has a bad skid in some snow, and manages to escape, with the cat. In doing so, she bangs her head badly, and totally loses her memory.

Rescued and taken to a farmhouse, the narrator meets a dour - and sometimes unfriendly - housekeeper, a small girl who seems to chat to her dead sister, and a farmer who is friendly enough, but distant with his daughter; evidently grieving for his other daughter and his departed wife. He has a strange neighbour, too, who seems distinctly suspicious.

I found the writing very good, with an element of suspense that made it hard to read the book late at night. I was reminded far more of books by Jane Aiken Hodge or Mary Stewart than the two contemporary novelists mentioned in the blurb. The plot was cleverly unfolded; the housekeeper's brother just happens to be a hypnotherapist, and attempts to help the narrator find her memory. Unfortunately he apparently takes her back much further than intended, to what seems to be a former life in Victorian times. This is all connected with a local mystery, increasing the suspense considerably.

I had to read the last part in daytime... but on the whole, enjoyed it very much.

My longer review of 'Coming Home' can be found at the Bookbag site.

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