My first review of 2020 – Happy New Year everyone! – and what a perfect book to be starting the year with. It’s such a pleasure today to be helping open the blog tour for The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan on publication day, and to share my review. Published by Aria Fiction, this lovely book is now available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon, and also for Kobo, through Google Play, and as an iBook. My thanks to Vicky Joss at Aria for my invitation, and for my advance e-copy (provided via netgalley).
This is the fifth book from Faith Hogan – and you might just have noticed that every book she writes becomes my new favourite. So I suspect it’ll surprise no-one when I say it again – I really loved this book! Should you be less familiar with her books than I am, you’ll find reviews here on Being Anne of all the others – My Husband’s Wives, Secrets We Keep, The Girl I Used to Know and What Happened to Us? – all thoroughly enjoyed, each book cementing her place on my “favourite authors” list. Let’s take a closer look…
Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.
Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.
It must be the curse of every Irish author to be compared with Maeve Binchy, but on this occasion… I’m sorry, I really have to! I remember so well the joy of discovering books like Light A Penny Candle and Circle of Friends, losing myself in the stories, totally unable to set them aside and leave the worlds they created. And this book gave me exactly that same feeling – warmth and comfort, a strong sense of place, an all-consuming story, characters that made me feel for them so very strongly. I thought this book was wonderful: and I really should add that Faith Hogan’s writing style and talent for story-telling are entirely her own.
This book is perhaps a little different from her others. I think it’s probably fair to call it a saga – but I’m almost afraid to use that word, lest it diminishes the book in some way. It’s a dual-time story, with a perfect balance between the two threads, a seamless shifting between the past and the present day. The chapters headed “The Past” follow Miranda’s life, from childhood, firmly anchored in the wonderfully drawn town of Ballycove. It’s an enchanting story of families and their secrets, friendship and first love, moving slowly into adulthood, chronicling the many life changes, the moments of joy along with the heartbreak and loss.
The present day story focuses on Miranda in later life, now at the helm of the Corrigan Mills: she’s approaching the point when she needs to consider handing over to another. Corrigan Mills, largely through her efforts and actions, has always been the heart of the community: she needs to be sure that it continues to provide that support.
In that present day story, the focus is very much on families and their complexities. The author’s great strength has perhaps always been her characters, and I loved the Corrigan family. The mills have always been central to the life of daughter Ada, to the exclusion of all else: she lacks empathy and emotion, has a buttoned-up remoteness, and an obsession with keeping a tight grip on the purse strings. She feels she’s the obvious choice to take her mother’s place – but Miranda is understandably less convinced. Son Simon is a rogue – a totally unashamed one, with a distinct edge of likability however badly he might behave, but with no real interest in the mills other than as a source of income. Daughter Callie’s successful career as a designer has taken her away from Ballycove, into a new life, unlikely to want to return.
Their lives slowly play out, with a few surprises and those strong echoes from the past. It’s a perfectly paced story, an unexpected outcome – and it really is an absolute joy to allow the story to carry you away to its conclusion.
I really don’t think Faith Hogan’s writing has ever been better. Her love for her characters is palpable, the story told with a warmth that radiates from the pages, with that constant focus on the emotional connection that makes a place “home”. An unreserved recommendation from me – and the most perfect way to start a new reading year.
About the author
Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
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