The Inn at Rose Harbor (by Debbie Macomber)

I had never come across Debbie Macomber before, but her book was on the shelves of The Bookbag, and looked interesting. I assumed from the cover that it would be lightweight, possibly heartwarming small town  fiction that was character-based; it turned out that my judgement of the cover was pretty much spot on. It's set in the USA - as I had also guessed, from the spelling of the title - but there's not much that jars from that perspective.

The story features Jo Marie, who was recently widowed. She takes over a small B&B where she believes she can find healing. She renames it Rose Harbor Inn and gets ready to welcome her first two guests.

Josh has returned to the town to visit his dying stepfather. They never had a good relationship, but he hopes to retrieve a few of his mother’s treasured possessions.

Abby has returned to the town for her brother’s wedding. She is very anxious about being there, as she thinks that everyone hates her.

The story is told from each of these three perspectives in turn, which mostly works well. I really wanted to like this book. The setting is gentle, the people likeable, the stories, if a little predictable, could have been moving and uplifting.

Unfortunately, much of it was rambling and repetitive. Particularly in the middle sections, every implication was spelled out; nothing was left to my imagination or intelligence. I also found many of the conversations to be rather dull. I was not interested in exchanges about whether or not someone wanted coffee, and whether they would like milk or sugar. They took the story nowhere, and I felt that the book would have benefited greatly from some significant editing.

And yet, there was something about this book that was surprisingly appealing. The three main characters somehow crept under my skin; I was sorry to turn the final page and to realise I had to say goodbye to these three people who had started to feel like friends.

So in the end I would give this a cautious recommendation, if you enjoy gentle, heart-warming stories and if you don’t mind a somewhat rambling style of writing.

You can also read my longer review of 'The Inn at Rose Harbor' at the Bookbag site.

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