One of my most popular posts last month was the one I put together with help from Jessie Cahalin – going back to the seventies, meeting Pearl from her recently released novel You Can’t Go It Alone. If you missed it, you’ll find it again here. With the book available via Amazon in the UK and US, in paperback and for kindle, I was keen to visit Delfryn for myself, to meet Jessie’s other characters and read their stories – and Jessie was kind enough to provide a copy for my review.
Love, music and secrets are woven together in this poignant, heart-warming narrative.
Set in a Welsh village, the story explores the contrast in attitudes and opportunities between different generations of women. As the characters confront their secrets and fears, they discover truths about themselves and their relationships.
The reader is invited to laugh and cry, with the characters, and find joy in the simple things in life. Listen to the music and enjoy the food, as you peek inside the world of the inhabitants of Delfryn.
Let Sophie show you that no one can go it alone. Who knows, you may find some friends with big hearts…
This book is a really ambitious undertaking for a first-time writer – a cast of characters that would be daunting for the experienced, a multiplicity of story lines, back stories that can be central to the plot but sometimes just helpful to set the scene or to explore the book’s themes, and (later in the book) a few shifts in time. That sometimes made it a more challenging read than I might have been expecting, but there was so much about it that I enjoyed.
The anchor for the characters’ stories is Delfryn itself – vividly drawn, described in the kind of detail that enable the reader to walk its paths and experience its beautiful scenery through the eyes of its characters through the changing seasons. And there are characters who really do become your friends – I’ll admit I didn’t entirely take to Sophie, and maybe didn’t totally engage with her personal story, but I did like so many of the friends she makes. I particularly liked Rosa and the family at the cafe – I’d really like to eat there, under the olive tree, with the candles, listening to the music – and their fascinating history. And Ruby, with her long-hidden secrets and seemingly insurmountable family problems. But my personal favourite was most definitely Jim – his night-time walks with the dog, his precious memories tinged with such pain and longing, his beautifully drawn interactions and relationships with other characters. And there’s a lot of music in this book, and it’s really central to the story – I defy you not to find yourself with Pearl’s a Singer going round in your head, as I did.
The author has a real feeling for character and place, and it really shines through her work. Her ideas around plot and how a story unfolds are original, and well executed, with a good balance of lightness and shade. I do look forward to reading subsequent novels and watching how she continues to develop as a writer after this strong beginning.
About the author
Jessie is a bookish blogger, word warrior and intrepid virtual explorer. She loves to entertain with stories, and is never seen without her camera, phone, notebook and handbag. Fellow authors have deemed her ‘creative and quirky’ and she wears these words like a blogging badge of honour.
Having overcome her fear of self-publishing, she is now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling her for decades. Her debut novel, You Can’t Go It Alone, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society. The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’
Connecting with authors via her Books in my Handbag Blog is a blast. She showcases authors’ books in the popular Handbag Gallery and has fun meeting authors in her virtual world. Communicating with her authors still gives Jessie a creative buzz.
Jessie Cahalin hails from Yorkshire but lives in Wales with her husband. She loves to travel the world and collects cultural gems like a magpie. She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give her inspiration.