The Turning Point by Freya North

A couple of days ago I finished this book and it’s one of those rare novels that leaves you with long lasting thoughts about it, it is so beautifully written with characters that really get under your skin. I purchased this book after hearing Freya North talk about it on The Wright Stuff, I am very glad that I did as this is a brilliant book.

The story is of Frankie and Scott. Frankie is an author of children’s books and has recently moved with her children to Norfolk. As she’s trying to settle in to her new life in a different part of the country she struggles to write and feels under immense pressure. She enjoys walking on the beach with her children but struggles to feel a part of the community and engage with those around her.

Meanwhile, Scott lives in Canada and is a musician. He’s concerned about his daughter Jenna who has epilepsy yet is starting her adult life wanting to go to university and be just like everyone else despite her illness.

It is during meetings in London that Frankie and Scott’s paths meet and they are amazed by how quickly they connect with each other and how powerful ┬átheir feelings for each other are. Family members are quick to warn Frankie of the ridiculousness of a long-distance relationship and introducing a man into the lives of her children but she can’t ignore it and what develops is a really special relationship despite the distance. The likes of Face Time enabling them to get a real sense of each other’s lives, the odd shared week together in each other’s houses meeting each others friends and family and it is clear to everyone that what they have is real but can it last? Will one of them have to move? But how can they when their children both need them?

What I absolutely loved about this book is that it felt very real. Sometimes when you read books about people falling in love it can seem full of cliches or a bit cringe-worthy but there was something special about the connection between these characters that made it not feel like that at all, it all came across as very natural.

The relationship between Frankie and Scott could teach us all a lot, they had so much respect for each other’s positions and were full of wise words for each other that can really reflect upon our own lives such as Scott encouraging Frankie to appreciate what is around her and everything she has rather than worrying that they are so far apart. It made me stop and think and reflect about how I am always looking ahead in my own life- wanting to move, wanting to be well, the children be older and so forth that maybe I should ┬átake Scott’s own advice and appreciate what I have at the moment.

There were moments within this book that completely had me drawn in so much that I wasn’t aware of what the time was or anything that was on my mind and I think this is the sign of a really clever author. I was so lost in their worlds that I would think about them after I’d finished reading. I was moved and admit to having shed a tear at one part of this book too and really did feel the emotion that Frankie was going through, it just felt so very real.

This is a book which moved at quite a slow pace, no huge drama and action and instead a gentle introduction to two very wholesome characters. This worked so well, perhaps that was what made it seem so real- them sending photos to each other of what they were having for dinner, the gentle encouragement and interest in each other’s work… if it was full of dramas it would have overshadowed what was most important within this- the relationship growing between two people.

I loved reading this book and miss it now! I enjoyed being whisked away to a different world so I could switch off from my own woes and instead lose myself in Frankie and Scott. I left me thinking about my own life and taking some of the morals of the story on board. I am definitely going to be looking out for more of Freya North’s books that I haven’t read yet so I can enjoy reading more from this talented author who has a very special way of creating very beautiful characters and settings.

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No Place to Hide by Susan Lewis

I finished this book a couple of days ago and really enjoyed reading it. Although Susan Lewis has written several books, this is the first of hers I have read and it definitely won’t be the last! This book was very thought provoking with brilliantly created characters that had me drawn in and wanting to know what happened right from the beginning.

The story is of Justine who has moved to America, to an area where her Grandmother used to live. It is clear that she is trying to start her life afresh with her little daughter Lula and that there is something about her past that she is hiding from. There’s an air of mystery- why is she still desperate to talk to her husband yet won’t? who are these other children she thinks about but won’t talk to anyone about and hushes Lula when she tries to bring them up in conversation?

As Justine settles into her new life and creates friendships she also looks into the life of her grandmother and questions why there seems to be a sense of mystery about her too- town members tend to say they know exactly who she was but don’t want to say any more. As Justine questions the generations before her own it also makes her think about her own parenting and the lives that she has influenced.

What was really special about this book was the whole family and relationship issues which ran throughout. There were so many interwoven- that of Justine and her mother, her mother and her grandmother, her own relationships with her children, her friendships and that of other people looking in on them. It made for very interesting reading and meant that I, as a reader, thought about how events affect all family members and how this can then be passed on through generations and that you can learn from it to do better yourself.

Another part of this book that I found really interesting was the fact that the other side of a story was told. Without giving away spoilers, it is often the case that books talk about victims’ families and how they move on after big events but we often forget what it must be like for the families of those who carry out the life changing events; how do those families get over it? How do they cope with the judgement and the emotions that they suddenly find themselves facing through no choice of their own? It certainly made me think about that side of things which I have never really given much thought to, definitely a fresh take on a story which made this book so insightful.

I really felt like i went on a journey with this book- that is very cliched I know, but throughout it you really get to know the character of Justine and what her life was like. As she relives the events of her life it just makes you get to know her more and more and you’re willing her to be able to move on and find happiness and it’s so moving to see how she changes throughout and how her relationship with new friends and old as well as her mother unfold.

There’s plenty going on within this book- the mystery of what Justine is hiding, the mystery around her grandmother, the awkward relationships, the questioning of parenting skills and the causes of behaviour… it’s all so deep and so many twists and turns yet it is written beautifully.

I really enjoyed reading it, I love it when characters are so well written like this one so I can’t wait to now read more from Susan Lewis. This book certainly helped to transport me into a different world to forget my own woes which is exactly what I love in a book. Five stars from me!