Readers this is something a bit different for me. First of all, this writer no longer writes and has no real web presence. But in the past I have read both The Shell Seekers and Winter Solstice by this author and I loved them - especially The Shell Seekers - so when a friend offered to loan me Coming Home I couldn't wait to give it a try.
Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of anextraordinary young woman's coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home...
In 1935, Judith Dunbar is left behind at a British boarding school when her mother and baby sister go off to join her father in Singapore. At Saint Ursula's, her friendship with Loveday Carey-Lewis sweeps her into the privileged, madcap world of the British aristocracy, teaching her about values, friendship, and wealth. But it will be the drama of war, as it wrenches Judith from those she cares about most, that will teach her about courage...and about love.
Teeming with marvelous, memorable characters in a novel that is a true masterpiece, Coming Home is a book to be savored, reread, and cherished forever.
A reviewer on Goodreads said of this book "Rosamunde Pilcher's books are like a hot bubblebath. You sink into the story and resurface a few hours later feeling refreshed." I agree with this - to a point. I don't necessarily feel refreshed afterward, but I do feel comfortable and warm and safe. Coming Home is an epic novel - it is well over 800 pages of tiny print in whatever format you get it. It spans about 12 years in the life of Judith Dunbar who is fourteen years old when the book begins. The book is set just before, and primarily during the second world war.
Pilcher's books, and this one in particular, are very detailed and descriptive of daily life, primarily in England but also in other settings. You feel as if you are part of the story. Reading a Pilcher book is like coming home to family that you love, and are comfortable with. There is love and loss and friendship and more love. At times you feel like it will go on forever, but inevitably you are sad when it ends. For all the time I invested in the characters of Judith and the Carey-Lewis family and friends, I will admit to a slight disappointment at where Pilcher chose to end this story. It was so long and so epic it just seems to have ended rather abruptly. I would have liked it to have gone on just a little bit longer.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Rosamunde Pilcher is a British author of romance novels and mainstream women's fiction. Early in her career she was also published under the pen name Jane Fraser. Pilcher retired from writing in 2000.
In 1949, Pilcher's first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills and Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her real name with Secret to Tell. By 1965 she had dropped the pseudonym and was signing her own name to all of her novels.
At the beginning writing was a refuge from her daily life. She claims that writing saved her marriage. The real breakthrough in Pilcher's career came in 1987, when she wrote the family saga, The Shell Seekers. Since then her books have made her one of the more successful contemporary female authors.
One of her most famous works, The Shell Seekers, focuses on Penelope Stern Keeling, an elderly British woman who relives her life in flashbacks, and on her relationship with her adult children. Keeling's life was not extraordinary, but it spans "a time of huge importance and change in the world." The novel describes the everyday details of what life during World War II was like for some of those who lived in Britain. The Shell Seekers sold more than five million copies worldwide and was adapted for the stage by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham.