I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book through Love Books and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review
Living in her aunt’s lighthouse at Beachy Head, recently separated Imogen is doing her best to carve out a new life as a writer. Her teenage son is living with his father and displays indifference to her at every turn, her ex has a younger model and her aunt is in Jersey recuperating at her cousin’s home. But how will a middle-aged woman, used to life in suburbia, cope living on a rural headland and perhaps most poignantly a mere stone’s throw from the lighthouse where her own father died in a tragic accident. Aunt Dorothy has started to send Imogen pages, well excerpts really from her father’s diary, but she is being very mysterious as to why she won’t just send her the whole thing.
Imogen is struggling to find a plot for her novel and definitely does not want to go with her ex-husband Ewan’s idea to write about her own father. It is whilst she is driving in Ewan’s old car that she inserts a CD and falls helplessly in love with a piece of flamenco guitar music. She feels the “beautiful but unbearable melody” and as she stops the car to listen, wonders how she had not before “understood the anger in sadness”. So begins the second thread of the storyline as Imogen takes the bold step to contact the guitarist on Twitter, setting the wheels in motion for new friendships and relationships.
Imogen finds herself making a new best friend in Jules, who helps her to put some of the demons surrounding her parents’ marriage and then her father’s death to rest. In return Imogen introduces Jules to the builder, Dylan, employed by her aunt to undertake an endless list of works at the lighthouse. Meanwhile the tweets to and from Spain are growing as the guitarist Santiago explains that he needs an English teacher and perhaps Imogen can help him. His music career is fading and his manager has encouraged him into acting. Imogen finds herself drawn toward Santi and his close family more and more, as her novel starts to unfold and her imagination mixes fact and fiction.
Her Twitter friendship is unfolding alongside her reading and learning more of her father in his diary, even finding that he also had a penpal – of the more traditional variety! The diary reveals secrets that make Imogen question everything about her past and throw caution to the wind with a visit to Madrid and a man who she only knows through “140 character” messages.
Pin for later
I would class this as a contemporary romance novel, but with a difference. There are romance novels and films where it is too easy to unravel the whole plot in the first five minutes – too predictable and one dimensional. This book is not like that and Cherry Radford has written enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The lighthouse storyline about her father lends some intrigue, whilst the Spanish storyline adds another whole dimension. The characters are believable, and I think the fact that some are more likeable than others shows that they are well portrayed. Imogen’s relationship with son Ollie had me laughing as it rang lots of bells, particularly as I have a teen Olly too and I really enjoyed the scenes of the blossoming relationship with new friend Jules. I would definitely enjoy a night at the pub with these ladies (this was their first proper meeting place!) – they are chalk and cheese, but this just adds to the humour.
Using social media to set up a “friendship” is genius, resembling so much of life today, and the communication barriers down to language mistakes are at times hilarious. There is a whole storyline describing Santi’s life and family in Madrid, which you must discover for yourself alongside Imogen…I don’t want to give anything away….but his early referrals to her as “the English woman” and how he views her as stereotypical English with her pale red hair and shy freckled body are very funny. The characters in the book all grow, not necessarily in the ways that the reader expects or wants, but relationships develop and become clearer as the storyline unfolds.
There are some very atmospheric descriptions of both the south coast of England, particularly of the rain and mist sweeping in, and also of historic Madrid where Imogen gains inspiration for her own novel.
I really enjoyed Cherry Radford’s style of writing and will be returning for more of her novels. I found this an easy going read – I actually read it within a couple of days – with a bit of history (the lighthouses), some intrigue, friendships, tears and love. Plus lots of laughter – from me at least!
About the Author
Cherry Radford was a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet Junior School, a keyboard player in a band, and then a research optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London before suddenly writing her first novel in the middle of a scientific conference in 2009. She now lives in Eastbourne and Almeria (Spain).
Her first 2 novels are available from Amazon and she is now thrilled to have signed with the wonderful Urbane Publications, who will publish The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter in Spring 2018.
Blog: Bla Bla Land