- Paperback: 343 pages
- Publisher: Gallery Books (September 7, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781439156858
- ISBN-13: 978-1439156858
- ASIN: 1439156859
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,833,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Home for Broken Hearts Paperback – September 7, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
For the past year, ever since Ellen Wood lost her husband in a car accident, she's been afraid to leave the house. She struggles to keep her head above water and care for her adolescent son, Charlie, which becomes that much more difficult when she discovers just how little money she has. At a loss for ideas about how to keep her home, Ellen reluctantly agrees to her sister's suggestion that she take in lodgers, and soon a German businesswoman, a handsome journalist, and Ellen's favorite romance author are all living under her roof. Coleman's newest novel tells a mature, thoughtful story, successfully juggling a large cast of characters and creating men and women alike with balance and humor. While some of the twists are predictable, the engaging cast and heartwarming story go a long way toward making up for it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ellen Wood has always defined herself as a wife and mother until her husband unexpectedly dies in a car crash. Her world is now limited to her 11-year-old son Charlie, the bodice ripper romances by Allegra Howard that she proofreads, and intermittent visits from her sister Hannah. When the insurance money does not come through, Ellen is in danger of losing her beloved Victorian house in London until her sister suggests taking in boarders. She ends up with three: Sabine, a transfer from Germany who left her husband; Matt, a journalist who just got his dream job writing about the exploits of a single man-about-town; and Ellen’s favorite writer, Allegra Howard. Each makes Ellen realize how isolated she has become, and she starts to grow as a person. Ellen’s relationship with her son changes for the better, but her always contentious relationship with her sister starts to deteriorate, causing a huge rift. Coleman (The Accidental Family, 2009)displays her usual charm and wit as she creates genuine characters and explores love, life, and sisterhood. --Patty Engelmann
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So when she learns from the accountant that there is no more money, and that the life insurance will not pay off on her husband Nick's death because he died from his own "reckless behavior," she must do something. Quickly, if she doesn't want to lose the one important thing in her life.
Ellen's sister Hannah suggests she take in boarders. The home is huge and can accommodate several, so the procession of candidates begins. When the three boarders join Ellen in her home, and when one of them turns out to be Allegra Howard, who needs a home and an assistant, a whole new world opens up for Ellen.
While the plot may be slightly predictable--I've read a few stories in which the financially-strapped have taken in boarders--this one has a few unique plot twists that set it apart. I loved the setting--I'm a fan of British surroundings--and it didn't hurt that one of the boarders is someone who can actually help Ellen become more independent.
All of the characters in The Home for Broken Hearts felt like real people, and the sibling rivalries between Ellen and Hannah had many layers. A few secrets came to light along the way, too.
What did Ellen discover in her journey, and what did each boarder contribute to the lessons she learned? And what unexpected obstacles did she have to overcome?
I kept turning pages, enjoying and savoring each of the moments until the end...which came much too quickly. Since I have loved every book by this author, I'm not surprised that I'm granting this one five stars.
I kind of knew what was going to happen from the very beginning, and had it all figured out, so yes, it was predictable in that sense. However, Coleman managed to write it all in a way that shocked, and exhilarated us and it made me laugh out loud a few times.
The only loose end that I felt wasn't covered was the fact that Matt had to write an article about his landlady, and yet there was never a confrontation with Ellen about it (even though there kind of was one with Charlie). Then again, my interpretation was that he was going to leave the business he's currently in anyway and do something more worthwhile with his writing skill.
My favorite scenes were those of the Sword Erect, where I felt like Coleman created a parody of historical romance novels. It was hilarious, especially that I am actually a fan of those novels and have read so many of them and own so many of them that I understood exactly what she was referring to every time.
I also found it very interesting to see how the writing process goes for a well-established author. In fact, all the secondary characters were interesting and enjoyable to read about. Even Hannah, although I kind of hated her the same way Ellie did - which is to say, you hate her but love her at the same time. One of the most shocking scenes in the book involved Hannah, and I'm not talking about the obvious, predictable one - but I don't want to add any spoilers, so will leave it to you to find out which one I'm referring to.
All in all, a very solid book. Not sure if this was the author's first (as I've not heard of Rowan Coleman before), but it felt like it could have been. There were many mistakes throughout that it almost felt like it wasn't edited properly before it was published. That did get annoying at one point, as it gets a little distracting. However, it wasn't so bad that I wouldn't recommend this book.
This may look like a typical British chick-lit, but it isn't in the least. It is a book about loss and self-discovery, and the strength it takes to move on afterwards. It is a book worth reading.