Thursday, 30 April 2015

Learn to Love Again - Ellen Faith

About the book...
Living in a small seaside village can have its perks, but after the death of her husband, Lillie Gilbert finds the people she grew up with turning against her faster than the tide rolls out.

As she grieves for the life they planned, the life they’ll never live, she leans on her best friend for support and tries to come to terms with the fact that one day, she may have to open up her heart to a new life and new love. 

After losing her childhood sweetheart, can Lillie really learn to love again? 

About the author...
Ellen lives in the wonderful county of Yorkshire, England where she spends most of her time baking, eating, baking, and eating. Occasionally she does leave the house to go to the cinema or do some food shopping though. 

After spending years with an overactive imagination, she decided to put all the magic in her head to some good use and put finger to laptop where The Story of Us was born and became her debut novel. She loves to travel, her favourite destinations so far have all been in America, hence the love of all things, and all people, American. The food rocks pretty hard too, she ate until her jeans begged her to stop whilst she was there. 

True fact. Aside from daydreaming and eating, Ellen is a sucker for a lolcat, penguins and monkeys - she has never claimed to be normal. 


My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this novella in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

Ellen is a wonderful writer that has created characters that could very well be my friends or members of my family, their characters resonate with me, they are so very true to life, they are multi faceted, facing situations that each and every one of us can relate to and they come across as really genuine people.

Learn to Love Again was an emotional, heart wrenching read from the very start. The story begins on the day of Nick's funeral.  He was Lillie's husband and childhood sweetheart and she doesn't know how to function without him, her family can't seem to get through the veneer she's built around herself.  In fact if it weren't for Sam their lifelong friend, home from the States for the funeral I'm sure she would have died of a broken heart.

Lillie's story was both heart breaking and yet at the same time uplifting for me.  Death is such a difficult subject, to read about especially when the person who has died was so young - with all their life ahead of them.  Lillie, naturally, had lost the will to live and could barely function - I could almost lift her pain and despair off the page and it would have been so easy for Ellen to have us the readers wallowing in the self pity and recriminations along with her if it weren't for Sam.  He seemed to know and understand Lillie more than her family, she feeling like she didn't have to put on an act for him, she could just be herself.  Like Lillie I took strength from his words and actions each and every page. He was, kind and caring - having all the time in the world and patience stronger than any saint I know.  He behaved in a light hearted way and was kindness on legs, not forgetting that Nick was his best friend too - he put his grieving on hold to be there for Lillie.

I literally loved every page of this book, particularly with Ellen providing the gradual back history of all the characters, of Lillie and Sam but in particular Nick.  The different stages of grieving was described so well by Ellen, I as a reader felt I was on an emotional roller coaster with Lille, her anguish and despair was so very real it was palpable, peaking and troughing with lighter moments of sensitively delivered humour.  The highs gradually outweighing the lows until Lillie was able to overcome her despair, hurt, anger and guilt of still being alive when Nick was dead. Also, coping when facing the fact her friend and support was headed back to America where he lives, proving that we can overcome things even at the darkest parts of our lives - finding the defence and survival mechanisms for us individually - we all grieve and cope in different ways. Ellen portrayal of both Lillie and Sam was amazing, portrayals so lifelike I forgot I was reading fiction, particularly when it got to the 'Nick' parts - he was dead in spirit but his character leapt from the page.

I particularly loved the ending of this book, such a stark contrast to the beginning - through the telling of the story Ellen pushes home the message of living for today, following our dreams and when the chips are down relying on your friends and family for support.  I was left with a warm glow, whilst quietly cheering and clapping - I genuinely cared for the characters as I would any close friends.

I highly recommend Learn to Love Again, a book about hope, acceptance, love and happiness. Ellen Faith is definitely an author that will stay on my reading pile.

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