Book Review: "The Home for Broken Hearts" by Rowan Coleman

For young widow Ellen Wood, her Victorian home is a refuge—a place to feel safe with her eleven-year-old son, Charlie. But when money grows so tight that Ellen could lose the house, her sister, Hannah, makes a radical suggestion . . . rent out some of the rooms. Soon Ellen has three lodgers: Sabine, a German coworker of Hannah's, recently separated from her husband; Allegra, an eccentric but wise novelist; and Matt, an up-and-coming young journalist in search of his voice, who has just landed a plum job in London.

Ellen thinks three strangers are the last complication she needs, but they make her realize just how isolated she has become. Their presence exposes a secret she's been keeping hidden, as well as a conflict with her sister that is both shocking and revealing. And while a love affair with a younger man seems like a fantasy powered by her imagination, Ellen can't deny her deep connection to Matt, or the changes he inspires in her and her relationship with Charlie. Outside her home's sheltering walls lies a world of opportunity as well as danger. Now that she's had the courage to open the door, does Ellen dare step through?

I knew I was going to enjoy this book as soon as I read the description. For some reason, I seem drawn to books about people who take boarders into their own home. I love reading about how many different personalities and secrets lie under one roof. As soon as I began the book, I began to see that very plot begin to take shape right before me. Ellie and her young son are still trying to get over her husband's untimely early death. I was a bit disheartened to see that Matt had completely left Ellie in the dark about everything in their lives and now that he was gone she was completely clueless. However, by forcing her to open up her house it forces her to start to change her lifestyle and be open to more people.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I love British chick lit books and this book fits the genre very well. I found the whole take on the cougar storyline to be interesting because it comes at it from a different point of view. Ellie is not on the lookout for a younger boyfriend, in fact she's not on the lookout for any sort of relationship at all. Matt is not the typical guy for her but their chemistry works out perfectly. There is some fantasizing that goes on but I found it fitting to the story and not like a romance novel at all.

The only person that really bothered me was Hannah. I didn't like her character from the start of the story and as the novel progressed, her actions didn't help me to sympathize with her character at all. Part of the reason may have been because the reader mainly sees her from Ellie's point of view as the the older sister. Still, I felt Hannah to be a character that brought a lot of drama in her life and couldn't see things from others' point of view because she's too caught up into herself. A book just on her story could be interesting as I feel her character needs to evolve in order for her to become likable.

Overall, I did enjoy this book very much. I got really into the story and into all (well, with the exception of Hannah) the characters and their lives. I really liked reading about Ellie's job as an editor as it gave me a closer understanding of how a book gets edited and published. I love reading books about people who love reading books so it was fun to see Ellie get excited to read Allegra's new book and have a say in it. The romance in the book was also fun for me as I didn't feel it to be too overpowering yet just enough to keep me intrigued. I love Coleman's style of writing and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

The Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman is published by Gallery Books (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


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