Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Going Home

'Going Home'
Author: Harriet Evans

Format: Paperback
Published: Downtown Press; Oct. 2006
Pages: 448
Genre: Chick lit
Grade: B
Source: Personal copy

Synopsis: This debut novel from Evans (a former editorial director at Penguin UK) opens with a late-twentysomething female British narrator and a crazy family holiday dinner, but quickly distinguishes itself from the usual Bridget Jones-esque fare. At the Walters' cozy Christmas in their crumbling countryside manor, trouble starts when Uncle Mike shows up with a blonde, buxom American wife, and normally affable Tom gets stinking drunk and declares his homosexuality. But then the big news hits: Kepper House-the aforementioned cozy manor-will have to be sold to fund one family member's shady dealings. So protagonist Lizzy Walter-a plucky Londoner nursing a broken heart and contemplating a move to L.A. as a way to leave behind painful memories-sets off on a mission to save the family home. Lizzy juggles her house-saving schemes with her romantic entanglements-she's dating the younger brother of the boy who broke her heart-but it's the familial characters like eccentric Aunt Chin and Chin's younger Australian fiancĂ©, and a mother and father ever-eager to hit the sauce that give the book life and depth. Charts (one rates the "level of weird behavior" of family members, another lists fundraising possibilities) and hyperactive capitalization (Lizzy washes "the Things that Are Too Big to Go in the Dishwasher") skew cutesy, but otherwise the story is set in solid writing that manages to be fun without dipping into dumbed-down frivolity.

My Take: I've been reading a lot of books that I was scheduled to read and I can't say that February was my most successful month on record so I felt the need to take advantage of a lull in my reading schedule and get back on track with reading something 'just for me'. I wanted it to be fun so I turned to an author that I really enjoy: Harriet Evans. Having already read two of her books: A Hopeless Romantic and The Love of Her Life (click titles for my reviews) I knew that she was fast becoming one of my go-to Brit chick-lit authors and always good to read when I need to relax. This certainly did the trick.

Going Home by Harriet Evans is her debut novel and having read some of her later titles first I can see just how far she has come in her writing style. First we have to have a quirky leading lady: Lizzy. Then we have to have a romantic issue: the supposed love of her life, David, moved to New York and slept with a good friend. Now we need to have another problem for her to focus her troubles on so that she can make everything into a mess: Lizzy's beloved childhood home, Keeper House, is being put up for sale for not very good reasons. Stir it up and what do you have? A delightful escape from my hectic life and I can explore someone else's problems for awhile.

Lizzy is sweet and charming and fun to read about. Her family and friends are entertaining and I want to root for her to overcome her problems. It was just the escape I needed. 

This book isn't the big 'oh my gawd, you have to read this, laugh out loud funny' chick-lit of the year but some of Evan's later books are so I am happy to see where she came from and I will be happy to continue to read her for years to come! 

Cover Lust: Since this book is six years old I'm not going to be too harsh on it. I'm just glad her cover art is getting more love now!


  1. I haven't heard of this author but I'm always looking for some good chick lit to read. Sounds like something I would probably enjoy!

  2. This will have to go on my escapist, vacation read list. I hadn't heard of this author before. Isn't it nice covers are getting more love these days?

  3. Sounds sweet and I do love chick-lit. it makes me happy

  4. It sounds like this was just what you needed.

  5. The cover writing reminds me of the Jill Mansell novels.

  6. I've only read one book by Evans but really liked it: I Remember You. It was utterly romantic and sweet, so I'm not sure why I haven't picked up others! This sounds like one I would enjoy, especially when I'm in a British chick lit mood (as I often am).

  7. the only book of evans that i read was the love of her life. i have i remember you sitting on my shelf and i'm taking that one with me on my spring break trip since i feel like its the perfect beach read. i always love a good brit lit book so i'll be adding this one to my wish list.

  8. I love British chick lit! I have read one other Evans book - I Remember You - it turned out to be a perfect beach read!

  9. It's niceto see an author mature as an author. I think that's why I love to discover debut authors and read book in the order written. They tell their own story.


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