Teenagers Ella and Molly have found each other through social media and have started a burgeoning friendship and why shouldn’t they – they are cousins.
They have never met.
Ella’s mother Lorna, left the island where Molly is at the age of eighteen and has never returned.
Molly’s father Jack is Lorna’s brother and has not seen his older sister since she left all those years ago.
Now Lorna is returning, back to the Island of Kip that she once called home and she is going back to her parent’s funeral. Two people she hasn’t spoken to or seen since she left.
So many questions need answering for Lorna and her brother Jack, and for us as readers. Ella and Molly’s friendship naturally goes from online to real life with ease and as Lorna watches she can see what Ella may have been missing all of her life. In fact maybe Lorna has been missing it to?
Told from the perspective of Lorna and Jack’s wife, Alice which I thought an interesting choice, as we only learn about him through the eyes of someone who has not known him all his life. We learn how Alice came to be on the island and the life she has created for herself and her small family. Whilst she may only have Jack and Molly, she has the whole island as a family too.
As the days unfold on Lorna’s visit, as we keep tenderly turning the pages there is a sense of something not quite right and it takes a long time for you to find out what the ‘not quite right’ was. Gently told and slowly unfolding is typical of Libby Page’s writing and is what draws me back to her stories. Sometimes you do not need the thrilling, racy page turning that you get in some books. Slow and paced can have just an affect and it did for me, as tears ran down my face between one interaction Lorna has with her old school teacher.
Of course the book is focussed very much on Lorna and her daughter’s story, but the island community feel is strong and we learn of people from Lorna’s past who have become close friends with Alice. It was if Lorna returned and saw the life she could have had, that Alice was having with all the people Lorna left behind.
A real thoughtful book which concentrates on the simplicity of family and friendship, with some difficult moments that leaving you thinking, even if it seems that all works out alright on the surface. I think for Lorna, Alice, Jack, the children and the island of Kip, you know that life will have some more tough moments to follow. Through the whole story, the author has made us aware of that, a skill which is not always used well with some authors. The story of these people will continue long after you have finished reading.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this books.
The Island Home is published 24 June