I’m guessing it’s no real secret that Faith Hogan is one of my very favourite authors, and it’s such a pleasure today to share my review of her latest book, What Happened to Us?, as part of the publishers’ blog tour (with thanks for my reading e-copy, provided via netgalley). Every book I’ve read from Faith – My Husband’s Wives, Secrets We Keep, The Girl I Used to Know (links to my reviews) – has become my new favourite of hers, and this one is no exception. Published by Aria Fiction on 2nd October, available in paperback and as an e-book on all major platforms (links below), I absolutely loved this book – and if you like the same books that I do, I guarantee you will too.
Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego.
Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!
Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side.
With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable…
How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…
One of this author’s great strengths is her characters – created and drawn with love and believability – and I defy anyone not to be immediately engaged by the wonderful Carrie. She’s a great central focus for the story, as other half Kevin seems intent on destroying everything they’ve worked for, lured by the excitement of sexy Colombian waitress Valentina. There’s a real depth to those two main characters, and I particularly liked the way we get to see their lives from both sides – the pub chats between Kevin and his remaining “friend” are just wonderful, as he slowly realises, his life slowly falling apart, that he might just not have made the wisest of choices.
Alongside that main story though is another that I found equally engaging – the sad story of Jane, alone at the pub over the road from Carrie and Kevin’s restaurant, grieving for the loss of her husband and living her days in fear. The author always has a perfect touch with her older characters, getting their thoughts and feelings absolutely right – and I really loved the supportive friendship that develops with both Carrie and the lovely Luke, wrestling with the problems of his own elderly and ailing father. The introduction of Teddy was an extra touch I loved – a dog with immense character, a catalyst for some of the action, and he has a real starring role during one of the book’s particularly dramatic moments.
The whole story is wonderfully convoluted, with some real surprises towards its end, and I loved the sureness of its emotional moments set against the humour – and occasional horror – to be found in Kevin’s situation. Lightness and dark are impeccably balanced, the cast of characters people you take to your heart (yes, unlikely as it seems, even hapless Kevin!), and the twists and turns of the story handled with the assurance of an author totally comfortable in her writing. Don’t miss this one, sheer enjoyment from beginning to end – and without question one of my books of the year.
This is one ginormous blog tour, and I’m delighted to be part of it – wishing Faith every possible success with this wonderful book. Here are details of all the stops:
About the author
Faith was born in Ireland and currently lives there with her husband, four children and two fussy cats. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers. When she’s not writing, she’s an enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger.
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