The return of Norah Wells one ordinary morning six years after leaving her family was indeed astonishing and unexpected. This book looks at the turmoil caused by her return, over a very dramatic few days. Norah walked out on her family when Ella was 8 and Willa just about one. She left a note asking her husband Adam not to try to find her and to tell the girls she loved them. Her best friend Fay was left to pick up the pieces and has become very much a part of the family.
What I really liked about this book was the characters. It is told from the perspectives of Norah, Adam, Willa, Fay, Ella and even Louis the family dog. The use of present tense made the story flow well and you really got a sense of just how dramatic Norah’s return was and how it affected all the members of the family. I especially loved little Willa who had no idea who Norah was and believed Fay to be her mummy. She was such a sweet wee girl who just wanted one big happy family and I just wanted to give her a hug. I also wanted to hug troubled teenager Ella. She had spent so long longing for and trying to find her real mother and was so disillusioned and confused when she discovered the truth about her leaving. I was totally outraged on behalf of Fay! Fay had kept the family together and loved them all as her own. I felt really angry with Norah who seemed to think she could just come back as though nothing had happened and expect everyone to welcome her with open arms. But of course, Norah has her own story and reasons for leaving which are gradually revealed throughout the story. By the end I did have some sympathy for her and I was happy with the way the story resolved.
I must also mention some of the supporting characters in the book – the wonderfully nosy neighbours the Pegg sisters, Ella’s boyfriend Sai, disliked by her father Adam but a caring, compassionate character and Sai’s mother, the wise and kind Mrs Moore. All added another layer and depth to the story.
A wonderfully perceptive story of the relationships within a family and what binds people together. It’s an endearing story with characters you will come to care about and I’m already looking forward to seeing what Virginia MacGregor will write next.
My thanks to the publisher Little, Brown (Sphere) for providing a review copy via Netgalley. The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells will be published this Thursday, 14th January 2016. You can pre-order a copy here: The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells
The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells – from the back of the book
One ordinary morning, Norah walked out of her house on Willoughby Street and never looked back. Six years later, she returns to the home she walked away from only to find another woman in her place. Fay held Norah’s family together after she disappeared, she shares a bed with Norah’s husband and Norah’s youngest daughter calls Fay ‘Mummy’.
Now that Norah has returned, everyone has questions. Where has she been? Why did she leave? And why is she back? As each member of the family tries to find the answers they each need, they must also face up to the most pressing question of all – what happens to The Mother Who Stayed when The Mother Who Left comes back?
From the author of What Milo Saw, comes this powerful, emotional and perceptive novel about what it takes to hold a family together and what you’re willing to sacrifice for the ones you love.