Firstly I wish to thank Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the Blog Tour for How to Belong by Sarah Franklin
ABOUT THE BOOK
A moving and courageous exploration of belonging and finding home in a rapidly-changing world from the critically acclaimed author of Shelter.
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
Jo had thought that being a Barrister would mean she could make life-changing things happen for people she represented, but the cases she had been given to take on were petty and soul-destroying. When her father and mother decided to move nearer to her brother, she upped sticks and returned to the Forest of Dean, where she had been brought up, to take over the family butchers shop. The thing was Jo felt like she was walking back to the life and friends she had left behind years ago, but, everyone and grown up and moved on with their lives without her in them.
Tessa didn’t want to return to the past, it had been hard enough the first time around, she had faced prejudice and embarrassment over and over again. She wanted isolation. Circumstances were going to throw these two very different women together.
It isn’t an all-action read, it slowly unfolds but kept me wanting to know more about both of these women and the people that were important to them. Liam, the best friend of Jo from years before, is a cracking character that I liked. How they were all brought up has long-reaching effects of the people that they became as adults.
At first, I was intrigued about who these characters were and why they had come back to this place because the place was still the same, but the people weren’t. It makes you stop and think about what home means to everyone. Some had never really found it, just had a glance from outside looking in. I loved the characters the more I got to know them, a brilliant book that made me reflect on my home town and the past.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire and has lived in Austria, Germany, the USA and Ireland. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes University and has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times. Sarah is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud, and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. Sarah lives in between London and Oxford with her family.