Hilary Boyd
Fiction Book Reviews

Where do responsibilities end? The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd

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The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd is the last book in the #QuercusSummer reading club and to be honest I am feeling quite sad.  Not just because it’s coming to the end of the summer holiday (although that does have mixed emotions) but I have loved being introduced to new authors and I will miss the challenge.

The first book as part of #QuercusSummer was Rosanna Ley’s Last Dance in Havana.  You may have remember that I met Rosanna at Tuckton Library’s Tea Party (seems a long time ago now!) so this is a special memory.  The second book in the challenge was Florence Grace by Tracy Rees.  This story blew me away and you will see it on my top books for 2016.

What are my thoughts about The Lavender House?  I am undecided whether it’s a ‘recommended’ read or a ‘keeper.’  This story made me so angry (this is a good thing!).  I feel it truly represents familial bonds and the responsibilities that we accept because of our blood ties.  As far as ratings go I would say it sits in between a 4* and 5*.

The Lavender House is available to purchase now in hardcover and Kindle formats.  Paperback releases 9th March 2017.

Hilary Boyd

Hardcover: 432 pages

Publisher: Quercus (4 Aug. 2016)

ISBN-10: 1784294152

ISBN-13: 978-1784294151

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.

But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?


Meeting Jim at best friend Lindy’s 60th birthday party leads to an emotional rollercoaster for Nancy.  From the beginning there is conflict with friends and family which leads to lies and deceit.  Each time a conflict was resolved it wasn’t long before another took its place.  However it’s not just Nancy who has challenges to face …  her mother Frances makes choices which although she thinks are the best for everyone may in fact cause just as much heartache and daughter Louise’s life is on the edge of change which she accepts but does husband Ross?  Jim has his own challenges to face too.

Nancy and Jim’s relationship is all too real and raw.  They’re putting themselves into a situation where they’re vulnerable and out of their comfort zones.   Not only does Hilary Boyd show us the deep attraction and emotions between them but also the questioning and lack of confidence.  You think once you get older you can conquer your feelings and can breeze through anything.  I did as a teen.  But it’s possible to still feel awkward and tongue-tied and not sure of another person (and not just intimate relationships).  To question your feelings and doubt yourself.  Nancy and Jim epitomise this exactly.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, some experiences cause the same responses as they did the very first time you felt them.

I didn’t like Frances or Louise.  I wanted to slap Louise and tell her to break that suffocating bond so that she could stand on her own two feet.  I hated how she chose to put herself first without thinking of the effect this had on others around her.  Again, I think this is a reflection of how life can be.  I understood her insecurities and the strength she needed but I did just want to tell her to get on with it.  I may not have liked her but I did admire her.

I loved Jim!  He understood emotions and expectations, making sacrifices and compromising.  A charmer with the stereotypical appearance of a guitar player/singer but underneath a gentle and creative soul.

Nancy.  Manipulated and controlled by her late father as a child (my opinion) and then ex husband Christopher I was rooting for her to finally live her life doing what she wanted, when she wanted.  I liked her vulnerability but she caused me no end of angst.

The Lavender House provoked strong feelings for me – but I wouldn’t say my anger overshadowed the soul connection it was easy to feel between Nancy and Jim.  Frustration – certainly – but this story is raw and real and I loved it for that.  It’s a story about that heavy Saturnine responsibility we feel for family and the guilt about making decisions where we put ourselves first.  Do we bow under pressure to continue living the ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to’ or do we break free and take a chance that there is more in life for us?

Connect with Hilary Boyd

Twitter @HilaryBoyd

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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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