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Book Review | Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

I’ve been looking forward to reading Where We Belong by Anstey Harris. I really enjoyed the emotional depths in The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton and couldn’t wait to see how I would feel with this novel.  I wasn’t disappointed!

Book cover for Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris is published by Simon & Schuster UK (14th May 2020) and is available to purchase in digital, hardcover and audiobook formats.

One summer.
One house.
One family learning to love again.

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

Book Review

The summer sped by at Hatters with Cate and Leo as they try to adjust to their temporary home (when they first toured the museum it reminded me of Night at the Museum!).

I’ve identified with every character – yes, even Patch!  Cate is fabulous.  I thought she had a lot of strength and took everything in her stride.  She’s not afraid to admit when she’s wrong.  I loved the relationship she has with Leo.  It must be difficult to know when to pull back and not to worry but Leo has it sussed better than she does and I thought Patch played an important part in helping her to see this.  I loved seeing her open up after being shut down from the guilt she’s carrying.  The community coming together and wrapping themselves around Hatters is brilliant!  Everything feels very isolated until help is needed …  The scene in the church was really poignant and one of those pivotal moments for letting go. 

I’ve felt a mixture of emotions as the characters faced crises and events.  Moments of joy, fear, love and disappointment too.  I thought there was a great balance between the dark and the light.  Anstey Harris writes sensitively about the impact of mental health whilst not holding back on the reality.

I do enjoy figurative language in a story and Anstey Harris does this well.  Here are a couple of my favourites:

“The sun is thinking about setting, lowering itself into a comfortable position on the horizon, letting go of the heat of the day.”

“The curtain waves once, gently, at us and breaths of summer fill the room.” 

Very evocative!

Where We Belong was a page turning read for me.  It’s a story of finding a new path once the old one has gone.  It’s about dealing with the aftermath of loss and holding onto guilt –  and how it’s possible to let the light in.  It shows us it’s ok to make mistakes as we try to find our way through the emotional maze.

An uplifting story that shows us we all have a place to belong, even if it takes a while to find it.

Highly recommended.

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Anstey Harris is based by the seaside in south-east England where she lives with her violinmaker husband and two dogs. She teaches creative writing in the community, local schools, and as an associate lecturer for Christchurch University in Canterbury.

Anstey writes about the things that make people tick, the things that bind us and the things that can rip us apart. In 2015, she won the H G Wells Short Story Prize for her story, Ruby. In novels, Anstey tries to celebrate uplifting ideas and prove that life is good and that happiness is available to everyone once we work out where to look (usually inside ourselves). Her short stories tend not to end quite so well…

Things that interest Anstey include her children and granddaughter, green issues and conservation, adoption and adoption reunion (she is an adopted child, born in an unmarried mothers’ home in Liverpool in 1965), stepfamilies, dogs, and food. Always food. She would love to be on Masterchef but would never recover from the humiliation if she got sent home in the first round. Website  Twitter @Anstey_Harris  Instagram

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