Carol is a divorced teacher living in a small town in Ireland, her only son now grown. A second chance at love brings her unexpected connection and belonging. The new relationship sparks local speculation: what does a woman like her see in a man like that? What happened to his wife who abandoned them all those years ago? But the gossip only serves to bring the couple closer.
When Declan becomes ill, things start to fall apart. His children are untrusting and cruel, and Carol is forced to leave their beloved home with its worn oak floors and elegant features and move back in with her parents.
Carol’s mother is determined to get to the bottom of things, she won’t see her daughter suffer in this way. It seems there are secrets in Declan’s past, strange rumours that were never confronted and suddenly the house they shared takes on a more sinister significance.
Having really enjoyed other novels by Graham Norton, I was looking forward to reading his latest, Forever Home. It follows teacher Carol who, after getting divorced, moves in with a much older man, Declan. This sets the locals gossiping until Declan becomes too ill to live at home, and is moved into a care home. Then things get even worse for poor Carol: Declan’s children from his first marriage force her to leave the family home…
Although I feel like this novel is quite a different kind of story from Graham Norton’s other novels (not sure why exactly – perhaps just because we’re focusing on a woman as the main character this time?), it still heavily focuses on family and community. The characters are also just as brilliant as they have been in his other novels, and feel very convincing. I can imagine knowing these people. They’re written with such charm (though some of them are definitely NOT charming!) and honesty, and I would have happily read a lot more about Carol and the community of this small Irish town.
There’s a definite dark side to this novel and a good dose of mystery, which I loved. However, it is absolutely a character study – if you’re after a fast-paced, action-packed story then this won’t be for you. We slowly uncover more about Carol, Declan, her family and Declan’s children as the novel continues, and start to wonder if everyone is hiding something…
I really enjoyed Forever Home and I can equally imagine reading it on holiday somewhere sunny as I could whilst curled up inside when it’s chilly outside. If you fancy something character-based with an interesting cast of characters and a great mix of dark and comic moments, this is the novel for you!
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.