Sunday, August 9, 2020

The River Home

The River Home by Hannah Richell
HarperCollins: 8/4/20
review copy; 368 pages

The River Home by Hannah Richell is a highly recommended character-driven family drama.

The Sorrell girls are all returning to their mother's Somerset country home called Windfalls for a last-minute wedding.  "Lucy, the bride, has begged her loved ones to attend - not telling them that she has some important news to share once they’ve gathered. Her prodigal baby sister, Margot, who left home after a devastating argument with their mother, reluctantly agrees, though their family home is the site of so much pain for her. Meanwhile, their eldest sister, Eve, has thrown herself into a tailspin planning the details of the wedding - anything to distract herself from how her own life is unraveling - and their long-separated artist parents are forced to play the roles of cheerful hosts through gritted teeth." Honestly, with a description like this what could possibly go wrong?

There are several mysteries/questions/secrets that need to be answered in this complex family drama. Exactly what was the horrible event that happened to Margot and why does she need to apologize to her romance-writing mother, Kit? What is Lucy's secret? What is going on in Eve's marriage? How will their parents, Kit and Ted, react? Richell expertly gets all the players and pieces described and in place and then leaves tantalizing clues about what will follow.

Chapters follow the present day preparations and drama while occasional chapters from the past explain the history of Kit and Ted's relationship and the painful secret that is the cause of Margot's estrangement and absence for eight years. There are an abundance of strong emotions and hurt in both mother and daughter that needs to be explained. The chapters from the past clearly show the pain that needs to be healed in all their lives today, but the chapters based on the current day also show relationships that need mending. This is a narrative that focuses on the intense relationships between sisters, mothers, and daughters.

The writing is excellent and the emotional turmoil of all the characters is clearly presented. All of the characters are all well developed and placed amidst the beautifully described, lush setting of Windfalls.  The setting is in stark contrast to the secrets, past and present, which will eventually be told. As a mother, I have to admit that Kit was a difficult character for me to like or relate to in any way. It seemed to me that Kit needed to do some introspective thinking and maybe also do some apologizing rather than just expecting an apology form Margot. That aside, I did want to know what happened to this family and was hopeful that there would be some healing between them.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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