Heading Home by Katie Flynn
|Heading Home by Katie Flynn|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Well-written light fiction set in the early part of the 20th century. Great characterisation and a satisfying ending.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd|
Claudia is seven when this book opens, in Liverpool in 1926. She's a careful girl, perhaps a little spoilt, although clearly not wealthy. She enjoys the protection of thirteen-year-old Danny who comes from a poorer family, and evidently has something of a crush on Claudia. Even in this first chapter, she comes across as somewhat self-centred, wanting people to think well of her, but not naturally generous or empathic.
A letter arrives saying that Claudia's Grandpa Muldoon needs some help on his farm in Ireland. Her father goes to visit him, and soon suggests that his wife and daughters join him. They don't like the thought of leaving behind their Liverpool grandmother, but she runs a boarding house and is fairly fit and active... and they don't expect to go for long.
But the months turn into years, and it's not until Claudia and her sister Jenny are in their teens and have finished school that they go to stay with their Gran in Liverpool and look for work.
Katie Flynn has a great gift for characterisation. Claudia is likeable enough, a somewhat spoilt beauty who seems to be everyone's favourite, and Jenny - who I warmed to rather more - is practical and sensible. The grandparents are both delightful, despite being antagonistic towards each other when they first meet, and Danny - who doesn't forget Claudia while she's in Ireland - is a very likeable man, if a little naive. Other people are memorable too, and I found myself quickly caught up in their lives. Most of the book takes place shortly before World War II begins, and it felt realistic that ordinary people really didn't have much idea that it would happen. The settings were believable, too; the author seems to know both Ireland and Liverpool well.
As I reflect on the book having finished it, I realise that some of the subplots were a little artificial, although I can't say any more without giving away too much of the story. I didn't have a problem with this while reading the book; I quite like satisfactory resolutions to problems and romantic interest, even if not quite realistic. There was a dramatic - and unexpected turn in the characters' fortunes and lives which kept the pace going, and I liked the latter part of the book more than the earlier sections.
All in all, it was pleasant light reading which I shall probably pick up again to re-read in a few years. Recommended to anyone who likes a well-paced story with some social history, and people who get under your skin. Many thanks to the publishers for sending this book. If you enjoyed it, you might enjoy Little Girl Lost, also by Katie Flynn, or for something rather meatier Lovers' Hollow by Orna Ross.
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