Published 9 January 2014 by Sphere
Paperback release 10 April 2014
In the dead of night, Ayesha takes her daughter, Sabina, and slips quietly from her home, leaving behind a life of full of pain. Boarding a coach to London, all Ayesha wants is a fresh start.
Hayden, a former popstar, has kept himself hidden away for years. He’s only opened up his home to two people – Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered retiree with a soft spot for waifs and strays.
When Crystal asks Hayden if Ayesha and Sabina can stay with them, he reluctantly agrees and, as different as they may be, they quickly form an unlikely bond. So when enemies threaten their peaceful home, they will do all they can to save it and each other.
I have to admit to being just a little biased here because Carole Matthews is an all-time favourite author. I’ve read all her books and there isn’t one that I haven’t enjoyed. A Place to Call Home is a slightly darker read than usual in that it touches on the subject of domestic abuse but it still has her trademark lightness of touch and sense of fun.
It was a real stroke of luck for Ayesha and Sabina Rasheed when they found sanctuary with Hayden and his lodgers after escaping from Ayesha’s abusive marriage with Suresh. Ayesha’s parents arranged her marriage thinking that she would be loved and looked after however life hasn’t worked out well for Ayesha and, Sabina, their young daughter, has become so traumatised by events that she has stopped speaking.
The house where Ayesha and Sabina find themselves is owned by Hayden, an ex-pop star who has suffered tragedy of his own. He keeps himself shut away from public life but through circumstance has found himself sharing his house with two other people, each damaged in their own way. Crystal, a lap dancer, has a tough exterior with a larger than life personality but also has a heart of gold whilst Joy, a former neighbour, is an elderly curmudgeon whose main enjoyment in life is the garden. Ayesha and Sabina have to somehow make a new life for themselves whilst recovering from the torment they have suffered and what follows is an uplifting and emotional read that tugs at the heartstrings and makes you realise the importance of friendship and kindness and the need to feel safe. The story isn’t all sweetness and light however, there is a little bit of suspense and danger to keep the reader on their toes!
With very different but beautifully crafted characters, I think this is one of Carole’s best books to date. I could happily have moved into Hayden’s house myself (although my cooking would be no better than Crystal’s!)
My thanks to Netgalley and Stephanie of Little, Brown for the digital copy to review.
About the author:
Her latest books, A Cottage by the Sea and Calling Mrs Christmas have both appeared in the top ten of the Sunday Times bestseller list. Her novels Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped Up In You were shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award. She was also inducted into The Festival of Romance Hall of Fame for her outstanding contribution to romantic fiction.
Carole is a prolific writer of short stories, featuring in several anthologies, and has presented on television. She’s also a regular radio guest.