People We Love by Jenny Harper #review @harper_jenny @accentpress

I am reading Jenny Harper’s Hailesbank novels in all the wrong order but it really doesn’t matter too much. They do read well as standalone novels as each takes a different character as its main focus, although you will encounter some of the same characters in the different books.

Lexie is the main character in this book and she, along with her family, are struggling to move on a year after her brother died in a car accident. Completely out of character, Jamie had been drinking the night he died and this is one of the things his family are having difficulty coming to terms with. Elderly and confused Edith arrives suddenly and quite dramatically in the family’s life one day with an unexpected connection to the house. What she reveals inspires Lexie to take up painting again which prior Jamie’s death had been her passion. As she begins to take tentative steps towards living for herself again, she also finds she may contemplate love once more when old flame Cameron comes back into her life.

People We Love is a book I was caught up with right from the beginning. At the start of each chapter are paragraphs seemingly from some kind of exhibition all about shoes. These paragraphs are so intriguing as it’s not immediately clear what relevance they have to the story. When their significance was revealed, I read these parts eagerly. They were so insightful. I think it what they were being used for would be a wonderful idea for an exhibition and definitely one I would go to see. I smiled when I read the part about Robin Harper, formerly an MSP for the Green party and wonder if that is a true story – I suspect it is!

Jenny Harper has a real talent for creating characters you care about and  whose emotions and actions are completely believable. I had ‘met’ Lexie in one of the other Hailesbank novels I read although the focus was on her friend Molly in that book. Lexie is someone I felt a lot of sympathy for. As well as grieving the loss of her brother, she also felt rather trapped, living with her parents and working in their traditional family furniture business. As a creative person, this was clearly very frustrating for her. I think many people will recognise that feeling of trying to make things right for other people while putting your own needs aside. Pavel was another favourite character in this book. He is Lexie’s friend and the two have quite a connection despite the disparity in their age. He is rather eccentric and runs an antique shop which Lexie loves to visit. Unknown to her, he has had quite a exciting life and what she is working on encourages him to share his story with her.

People We Love is my favourite of Jenny Harper’s novels which I have read so far. I found the characters and storyline very engaging and it was a really uplifting book. Through the book and its characters, we see that there is always a second chance to love and live a full life, but that people are only able to move on when the time is right for them.

My copy was purchased from Amazon. People We Love is published by Accent Press and is available in both paperback and as an ebook. You can order a copy online here: People We Love

From the back of the book

Her life is on hold – until an unlikely visitor climbs in through the kitchen window.

A year after her brother’s fatal accident, Lexie’s life seems to have reached a dead end. She is back home in small-town Hailesbank with her shell-shocked parents, treading softly around their fragile emotions.

As the family business drifts into decline, Lexie’s passion for painting and for her one-time mentor Patrick have been buried as deep as her unexpressed grief, until the day her lunch is interrupted by a strange visitor in a bobble hat, dressing gown and bedroom slippers, who climbs through the window.

Elderly Edith’s batty appearance conceals a secret and starts Lexie on a journey that gives her an inspirational artistic idea and rekindles her appetite for life. With friends in support and ex-lover Cameron seemingly ready to settle down, do love and laughter beckon after all?

About the author

Jenny Harper

Jenny Harper lives in Edinburgh. She is the author of four books about Scotland and Scottish culture, a history of childbirth, and The Sleeping Train for young readers. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys walking in the Scottish countryside or anywhere warm, and travel to Europe, America and India.

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