Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Home - Penny Parkes

About the book… 

Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives - caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.

But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.

Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do.

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About the author… 

Penny Parkes survived a convent education largely thanks to a ready supply of inappropriate novels and her passion for writ- ing and languages.

She studied International Management in Bath and Germany, before gaining experience with the BBC. She then set up an independent film location agency and spent many happy years organising shoots for film, television and advertis- ing – thereby ensuring that she was never short of travel opportunities, freelance writing projects or entertaining anecdotes.

Penny now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and an excitable dog with a fondness for Post-its. She will often be found plotting epic train journeys through the Alps, baking gluten-free goodies or attempting to reach an elusive state of organisation.

In 2017, Penny won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award. This is her fifth novel

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Follow Penny on Twitter and Instagram: @CotswoldPenny

My thoughts…

If ‘Home’ and Anna Wilson don’t break your heart I don’t know what character and book would!

Penny Parkes drip feeds information and allows us, the reader to gain a gradual insight into the life of the main character Anna, and what makes her tick. How the childhood she knew, moulded her into the adult she’s become. She leads a transient lifestyle, moving from place to place, stepping into a multitude of homes in her capacity as a professional house sitter. Never staying in one place long enough to put down roots, have a social life or get too close to anybody. Living on the periphery of peoples lives, whilst not really living her own.

Early on in the story we learn that as a child Anna had been shunted like an unwanted parcel from foster home to foster home. Her confidence and resilience battered a little more with each move. This explains a lot about character, I truly believe that the life we led as children has a strong bearing upon the adults we become and for Anna this was definitely true. She’s seemingly unable to put down roots and attach herself too strongly to either people or places.

Thank goodness for one of her foster parents Marjorie - what an absolute angel, I loved her as a character so much! She was just beautiful and kind, inside and out - boosting Anna’s confidence and teaching her to reach for the stars, to learn and grow. I really thought that Anna would get to settle here, so it was utterly devastating to read that Anna didn’t get to live her happy ever after life with Marjorie. Their interactions, each giving the other the comfort they needed with the life lessons Marjorie taught her instilled in her a drive to succeed, yet no matter what she achieved she never quite believed in herself. The bar set so high she consistently felt she could never quite sail over it. The mental pressure she put on herself was so hard to read at times, she was always striving for perfection but never quite believing in herself, not allowing anyone to get too close, preferring to keep herself to herself with the exception of best friend Kate.

Kate was the closest thing thing she had to family - she was the family she chose and a better cheer leader she could not have wished for. The sort of friend that is always there for you no matter what but, when needed tells you straight, not afraid to gently pull the punches - I loved her she was funny, resilient and dependable.

I loved watching Anna bloom, find herself and discover what Home meant to her - it isn’t always blood and nature that makes a home but nurture, love and gentle kindness. People who love you for you, not because they’re family and should. With Home Penny Parkes has woven a magical tale laced with honesty, openness, resilience, love and friendship. An uplifting, mentally descriptive read - the words painting vivid pictures that were at times both painful and beautiful. I loved it and loved that without realising it Anna left behind a little bit of herself with each and every house sit, touching the hearts of everyone she met until eventually she emerged like a butterfly and slowly begins to bloom and trust in herself.

This is a book I'll be shouting about for a long time to come - it is humbling, breathe takingly beautiful and a book that I know I shall read again and again. Thank you SJ & Books and the City for introducing me to another amazing author in Penny Parkes.

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