His dying wish was to set her free. So why does she feel so trapped?
– Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase
[ About the Book ]
Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone.
He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months. It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified.
Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.
As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.
[ My Review ]
Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley published June 29th with Lake Union Publishing and has been described as ‘a poignant and charming story of grief and loss, friendship and the love you find along the empowering journey towards self-acceptance.’ It is an absolute pleasure to be launching the blog tour today, in conjunction with FMcM Associates, with my review of this uplifting and delightful novel.
Geraldine Verne is in her seventies and recently widowed. Her husband Jack had passed away three months previously and Geraldine is struggling to keep going. She has lost complete motivation in life, now dishevelled and tired, a mere shadow of her former self. Geraldine first crossed paths with Jack fifty years ago. She was a librarian and he a butterfly enthusiast. They began dating, got married and had a very full life. With no children, although not by choice, when they had time off from work, they travelled to locations across the globe chasing butterflies, bringing home specimens and creating a room dedicated to their collection and studies. Now Jack is gone and Geraldine is left with his ashes and a wish that they be scattered somewhere ‘exotic’ but exotic is far from Geraldine’s mind now as she is stricken with anxiety and cannot make it beyond her own front door.
A few close friends and neighbours check in on her but Geraldine is fearful of change and of interaction with strangers. She knows her behaviour is erratic. She knows she isn’t living her life as Jack wanted her to. But Geraldine is afraid. She is afraid to let go of Jack. She is afraid of facing a world without Jack. She is lonely and alone and does not know how to fix herself.
An unexpected accident is the catalyst that changes the direction of Geraldine’s journey. After a fall she is incapacitated, and following encouragement from a very persuasive friend, she receives the assistance of Meals on Wheels. Geraldine is not happy about letting strangers into her home but she does gravitate toward one of the volunteers, Lottie.
Lottie is a young woman with her whole life ahead of her but she is sad. Geraldine picks up on this sadness sensing a like-minded soul. Gradually a beautiful friendship develops between the two women with very unexpected results.
I had read and loved Jane Riley’s previous novel, The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock, so I knew that I was going to really enjoy Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase. Jane Riley writes from the heart giving her readers all the feels, as the emotions switch back and forth as the story unfolds. Without Jack, Geraldine has lost all sense of herself and the person she used to be. The depiction of her alone as the panic attacks take hold or as she watches small children across the street playing together while she sits by her window unable to move would shatter the hardest of hearts. This is a woman who had a full life and now is incapable of making it to the front gate of her own home.
Geraldine Verne loves to bake. It is the one stable in her life. I was salivating as Geraldine whipped up numerous delights including one I hadn’t heard of before, Louise Cake. I have now set myself the challenge to make Louise Cake this summer and Jane Riley has very kindly supplied me with a wonderful recipe, so I will keep you all posted on my attempt!
Geraldine Verne’s story will resonate with many for various reasons. Her story could be that of a relative, a parent, a neighbour. It can be easy to give up on someone when we persistently feel like we are banging against a brick wall but we should not give up. A two minute phone call, a bunch of flowers, a postcard through the door, just letting someone know you are there with a listening ear when they are ready can make a huge difference to anyone who is experiencing grief, anxiety or loneliness.
Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase is a truly enchanting story with a host of engaging characters. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Geraldine Verne and I know you will too. An inspiring tale of living every day to the full, Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase is a warm hug of a read, a beautiful novel from start to finish.
[ Bio ]
Jane Riley currently lives in Sydney, where she volunteers as an English language tutor for the Adult Migrant English Program. She began her career in public relations before moving into publishing and later launching an online e-commerce business. She has freelanced as a writer and editor and wrote a design blog interviewing makers and creators.
Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase is her second book, following the success of her first novel The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock.
Twitter ~ @JaneRileyAuthor