Today I am delighted to join the tour for the brand new novel by Isabel Ashdown, Homecoming, which is out now in e-book. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the tour invite and publisher, Orion, for the advance copy. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Welcome to The Starlings… sun, sea and neighbours to die for.
Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours – The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of ‘Dorset’s Safest Community’. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed… until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?’
A mesmerising, character-rich thriller with a long-buried secret vibrating at its core: this is Isabel Ashdown at her heart-stopping best, for readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies, Dr Foster or Little Fires Everywhere.
So … will come as a surprise to literally no one, but this is the first book by Isabel Ashdown I have read. I own a couple of books by the author but they are there in the TBR pile, soon to be moved to the ‘why am I such a tit that I didn’t read these before’ pile no doubt.
I really rather enjoyed Homecoming. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it perhaps wasn’t this, and equally I’m not quite sure what category I’d put the book into if we were trying to allocate to a genre. It’s not quite a thriller, not quite domestic noir, but it is a relationship drama, and it is a book that held my attention from the very beginning. Not because it is packed with pulse pounding tension – often the way I like my books – but because it grabbed my attention from the beginning and left me with an overwhelming curiosity about what happened to cause such a dramatic opening scene and why.
Now I cannot tell a lie – I didn’t necessarily take to the main characters in the book. There is something about each and every one of them that is unlikeable, or at least would cause you to keep them at arms length in real life, with perhaps the exception of Frida, a young girl with the weight of the world upon her shoulders that it is almost impossible not to feel some affinity toward. One thing they did do, though, was intrigue me. I wanted to know their back stories, particularly Ginny, who is clearly nursing a deep secret. And secrets are, after all, at the heart of this novel. Secrets people might well be willing to kill to protect.
I really liked the uniqueness of the setting for this book. Whilst The Starlings may seem to be quite the exclusive development, and the author certainly manages to make it seem a very appealing and idyllic location, the building has somewhat of a chequered past that blends into the story in the most unexpected of ways. It seems that many of the central characters have some kind of link to the place, some more obvious and open than others, but it is in the history of the building that the core of the mystery lies. And because the main characters all seem to be duplicitous in some way, it is hard to trust any of them, creating its own kind of conflict, that adds a sense of threat and tension to the story.
Isabel Ashdown is definitely an author whose work I want to read more of. She created sure clear and vivid imagery in bringing The Starlings, and its inhabitants, to life on the page, and by the end I did have a (slightly) grudging respect for Ginny and development owner, Katrin. I think, in their own ways, they wanted to do the right thing, even if the way in which the author portrays them makes them seems as suspicious as all of the others. And the book itself covers very relevant and harrowing topic, ones which could easily have been ripped from the headlines – those of abuse of power and the denial of rights of unwed mothers – which adds a real emotional core to the whole story.
If you are a fan of the author I have no doubt you will really enjoy this book. If, like me, you are an Ashdown newbie, be prepared for a mammoth shopping trip, as reading the author’s backlist is now firmly on my agenda. Recommended.
About the Author
Isabel Ashdown is the author of eight novels, including her Amazon bestselling thriller LITTLE SISTER and Mail on Sunday Novel Competition Winning debut GLASSHOPPER. Two of her latest novels have been shortlisted in the prestigious Dead Good Reader Awards, and in several translations, her dark family dramas continue to hook readers across the globe. Her latest ‘ingenious thriller’ (Sunday Times), 33 WOMEN, is out now – an Amazon Bestseller within its first month of sale.
Isabel was born in London and grew up on the south coast, where she now lives with her family and their two dogs, Charlie and Leonard. She is a full-time novelist, a Royal Literary Fund associate, and, when lockdown allows, a creative writer tutor and festival speaker. When not writing, Isabel can be found walking the south coast beaches and hills, bingeing a boxset or sewing in the company of a good audiobook.
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