Title: Blog Tour: The House of Second Chances
Author: Esther Campion
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: 12th February 2019
Synopsis: Can a house heal heartache? From coastal Australia to the rugged beauty of Ireland, an enchanting novel of starting over, in the tradition of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney
Their grandmother’s stone cottage was always a welcome retreat in the childhood summers of Ellen and Aidan O’Shea. After a trip home from Australia, Ellen is keen to bring the neglected property back to its former glory and enlists the help of her dear friend and one of Ireland’s top interior designers, Colette Barry.
Aidan is already begrudging the work on the house he has avoided for nearly twenty years. The last thing the builder needs is an interior designer who seems to do nothing but complicate his life. With their own personal heartaches to overcome, will Aidan and Colette find the courage to give the house and themselves a second chance?
The House of Second Chances is the sequel to Leaving Ocean Road – which I didn’t realise at first, even though I have read the first one. It did all fall into place after the first few chapters, when familiar characters and settings appeared on the page, and links back to the first book were made. This story flicks back and forth between Ireland, and coastal South Australia with the characters, as they are reunited with each other, and as Aidan and Ellen work to restore the cottage with the help of Ellen’s friend, Collette Barry.
Intertwined are the lives of various family and friends in Australia and Ireland, such as Louise, Ellen and Gerry’s daughter, and the young daughter of a friend of Aidan’s. When something tragic happens, forces on both continents will work together to solve a mystery.
There are a few families at the centre of this novel. Ellen and Aidan O’Shea, Ellen and Gerry, and Ellen and Louise. Fern and her husband, who work for Aidan, and their family, Jane, the mother of a young girl and Aidan’s friend and many others whose lives all intertwine in the small towns in Ireland and Australia, which makes this a story more about families than romance for me, though there are romances that do happen, the majority of couples in this book are already together in relationships or marriages at the start of the novel. For me, I think this straddles the in between area of a romance-only based novel and one that allows other characters and relationships to be explored on the page. Relationships between parents and children, between siblings, between friends and between married couples, but that also touches on the darker sides of life -loss and death, and why people are who they are, revealed in flashbacks and chats throughout the novel. It is these stories floating around the central story about the house, Aidan, and Collette, that enhance the story and offer something for all readers and allows each individual reader to find a character that they can connect with.
Whilst not one I will read again, I still enjoyed it for what it was, and know that there will be an audience for this book and these characters. I did enjoy the Irish and Australian landscapes and the vibrant characters who were complex and vibrant, and always had more sides to them than it might first appear. As a sequel, it is well-written and brings us back to familiar – and new – characters, and the lives they have been leading since the first book.
A nice, light-hearted novel for those who enjoy these kinds of stories.
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