Published in November 2015 by Orion Publishing Group, House of Dreams is a novel that will transport you to sunnier climes. It is a very uplifting story of family & how the death of a parent is dealt with by those who remain behind.
‘In the hilltop villa with its spectacular views across rolling countryside to the straits of Gibraltar, Lucy anxiously awaits the arrival of her brother and sister. They’re spending the weekend together to say farewell to Casa de Sueños, the house in the mountains of southern Spain where they grew up. Her sister, Jo, landing at the airport with her fractious four year old, dreads the prospect of this time with her family which will fulfil their mother’s last instructions that they celebrate her birthday together. Only this time their mother won’t be there. Tom, their brother, remembers the chaos of his bohemian upbringing and wants nothing more than for their stay to go off without a hitch. Then a beautiful face from his past appears at the villa . . .
Over one long, hot week weekend, past secrets will spill out, making the siblings question themselves, the choices they’ve made and where their future lies in this gorgeous new novel from Fanny Blake. (Courtesy of Goodreads)
Admittedly, what attracted me to this book originally was the cover. After a long winter, a bit of sunshine in a book is always a necessity!!
Fanny Blake takes us on a trip to southern Spain to Casa de Suenos, the childhood home of Lucy, Jo & Tom. Their mother Hope has passed away & her last wish was for her ashes to be scattered near her Spanish home following her traditional annual birthday party. The only thing is Hope will not be there as she once would have been.
From the beginning, we can see the different characteristic of each sibling. Tom is the big brother, the accountant. He lives his life in quite a regimental fashion, constantly overseen by his somewhat overbearing wife Belle. Everything, up to this point, has been very black & white in Tom’s life. He gets up at a certain time, has his meals at a certain time, takes his vitamins daily and lives a very straight up existence.
Jo, the big sister, is a completely different character. She works hard & plays hard. She is single now with a little girl Ivy, who has become the centre of Jo’s universe.
Lucy, the baby (always!!), is the person who would have had the closest relationship with her mother. She lived in Spain the longest & it was to her that Hope came to spend her dying days with in the UK. Lucy, unable to have kids, and with a husband who works away from home, was the ‘obvious’ choice. It is Lucy who finds this whole process the hardest.
As the three prepare to sell the family home, it becomes evident that each one of them has baggage from their youth. Jo & Tom have no idea of whom their father is. Hope would never discuss it with them when she was alive & they now are hopeful of unearthing something of her past as they sort through & divide out her belongings. Lucy, on the other hand, is very sure of her past, as her father was Walter, whom Hope went on to marry. ‘The thought of splitting up their childhood home upset Lucy more than she had anticipated. The others seemed to be much tougher about facing up to what they had to do. Within moments of Tom and Jo’s arrival at the house, she felt herself slipping back into the role of the little sister whose opinion mattered least. She had to pull herself together’.
Of the three siblings, it is Lucy I warmed to the most. Possibly because I too am the youngest in my family but also, more than that. Lucy just appears lost. Up to this point she had a husband, a career, a mother, a family home. In Spain she comes to realise that her life is very much in disarray. Her mother is no longer there, her marriage is in tatters & her business is in ruins. Jo & Tom systematically go through their mother’s belongings and it is obvious that Lucy is finding it hard. Jo eventually seems to come to this realisation. She was too preoccupied with succeeding in her own life that she left it too late to have those final moments of truth with Hope. ‘Lucy had made the effort that Jo hadn’t. She had got beyond thinking of Hope as just their mother and had got on with her as any other woman would, finding out what made her who she was: something they couldn’t have been less interested in when they were younger, too preoccupied with their own lives’
A House of Dreams takes place over one long weekend. It is Hope’s birthday, her last party. It is a farewell to Hope from her family & all her friends. Truths are unearthed, relationships are both strengthened & destroyed but ultimately three siblings get to rediscover each other. They find a new ‘hope’ for the future. They find a new kind of love for their mother. They learn about her past. They learn a little more about who they are & what they have now become. I think they learn how to live a little bit more in the present.
A House of Dreams is a lovely, easy 4* read about rediscovery, about love & most importantly about having dreams & ‘hope’ for a future.
I received my copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Pick up a copy and let me know what you think.
Til next time.