Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

"The life you lived. The life you loved. The life you left…
For fans of Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern.

It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella’s feeds.
There was no way of knowing that her husband, Paul, would leave for work that morning and simply not come home.
Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and, unable to answer her children’s questions about where their Daddy is, Sarah is getting desperate.
But it turns out she isn’t quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend, Edward, comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she’s finally been thrown a life line.
There’s just one problem with Edward: Sarah is the only person who can see him."

Thank you to @margaretbmadden for running #IrishFictionFortnight and for introducing me to Carmel Harrington (@HappyMrsH) and thank you to Carmel for taking part and sending me the fabulous signed copy of The Life You Left.  I had been looking for a new Irish author, and I have found that in Carmel Harrington, who is easily comparable with the best; Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes.

The Life You Left took me totally by surprise when it grabbed my heart and soul and dragged me straight into the pages. I had not expected the storyline that unfolded in front of my eyes; the last thing I had expected when I read the back of the book was murder and guardian angels but I loved every minute of it.  

The concept of guardian angels may not sit with everyone's beliefs but there is something about the way that The Life You Left is written which absorbs you into this world where I did not doubt or question the storyline for even a nanosecond.  I loved the references to white feathers (something which we have in our family) and I had not come across the pennies from heaven before.  I was walking out of the tube station the other morning, and sat there glistening on one of the steps was a penny; it made me smile on an otherwise bleak morning, so thank you Carmel for bringing something new to my life as well as your fantastic book. 

What made The Life You Left extra special for me is that Carmel Harrington lives in Wexford and my family are from County Wexford. In fact, they are from Gorey which features in The Life You Left and I found myself beaming as I read those sections purely because of the association with my life.  Although I have always lived in England, Ireland is somewhere which feels like home and there is always something inside of me pulling me back there. 

Harrington has an incredible writing style and you can feel the emotions pouring off of the page. It made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me feel rage at a certain character.  I felt the fears and anxiety radiating off the characters but I also felt the love and energy pouring out of their hearts. 

The Life You Left is packed full of a fantastic cast of characters, both goodies and baddies. I warmed to the lead character, I adored her children, I loved her twin and the other supporting cast members and I loved despising the baddies.  The Life You Left is warm and uplifting, it is about moving on and fresh starts, it is about love and friendship and it is about making a difference.  This book will stay with me for a very long time.

The back of the book is absolutely spot on - if you like Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern, you will also love Carmel Harrington.

I will not hesitate to get myself a copy of Harrington's debut novel, Beyond Grace's Rainbow, and will be keeping an eye out in the future for any new releases; a new favourite author for my list!

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