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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching story of family relationships, 29 Dec 2006
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Mass Market Paperback)
I have very much enjoyed the two previous books I had read by Susan Wiggs - they were Historical Romances - but when this book arrived from inter-library loan and I read the blurb on the back it seemed I'd picked the wrong sort of book for me. The story was evidently about family relationships and tensions following a woman adopting her sister's child at birth. I put off reading the book for a while but when I finally started it I was immediately engrossed.

Jessie Ryder is a successful photographer but with secrets. The first secret is that Lila, her niece, is actually her daughter. Her sister Luz and her husband Ian took Lila the moment she was born and have brought her up as their own child along with three sons that came along later. But there are more secrets that Luz doesn't know - Jess and Ian had a brief fling before he got together with Luz and Ian is the father of Lila - both adoptive and natural. But there are even more secrets; Jessie is visiting them now, after sixteen years, as she is losing her sight and wants to take a final `look' at her family, particularly her daughter, before it all goes dark.

Jessie is an interesting character and I wasn't always sure I liked her. She deals with emotions by running away and never seems to stick with anything. She comes like a whirlwind into Luz and Ian's life and appears to be causing disruption - teenager Lila is becoming wayward and ends up involved in a tragedy, and even the grieving widower next door gets sucked in to Jessie's mayhem. And yet she's also a woman who feels greatly for the mistakes that she has made in her life and who wants her family to be happy and does what she can to further that.

Despite me not really being interesting in family relationship books this one was very good - I wanted things to turn out well, for Jess and her sister to go back to the close relationship that they formerly had, for Jess to have the support she would need in her future. This book portrayed the complex family dynamics that can take place in what seem to be ordinary lives and the ways in which those we love can hurt us as well as heal us. There's a gentle and sweet romance in the book too, as well as a fascinating vignette into what it must be like to go blind as an adult. I recommend this book as an enjoyable and excellently-written read.
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Location: Essex, England

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