Homeward Bound by Richard Smith #bookreview

George is a recently widowed seventy-nine-year-old. He nearly made it as a rock star in the 1960s and he’s not happy. Tara is his teenage granddaughter and she’s taken refuge from her bickering parents by living with George. Toby is George’s son-in-law and he wants George in a care home. 

George has two secrets. 1) He’s never revealed why his music career stalled. And 2) No-one knows just how much the disappointment of opportunities missed still gnaw at him. He craves one last chance, even at his age. When it presents itself, through the appearance of a long-lost distant relative – whose chequered past should set alarm bells ringing – he can’t resist. 

For Tara, living with her grandfather is a way to find her own path and develop her own musical ambitions. She isn’t prepared for the clash between different generations and living in a strange house full of her grandfather’s memories – and vinyl records.

They get off to a shaky start. George takes an instant dislike to the sounds from her bedroom that seem more suited to Guantanamo Bay than anything he would call musical. But as time plays out, they find there are more similarities – neither know how to operate a dishwasher – than differences, and parallels across the generations slowly bring them to recognise their shared strengths. But when Toby inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events, it leaves Tara with the same dilemma her grandfather faced five decades before with the same life-changing choice to make

My thoughts:

Thank you to Matador Books for a copy of this book – my thoughts about the book are my own.

Having read the blurb on the back of the book, I was keen to find out more. This is the third book I’ve read this year with an elderly protagonist (main character) – the other books being Saving Missy and Away with the Penguins.

The story looks at George and his family after the recent loss of his wife. His son-in-law, the obnoxious Toby, is desperate to put his father-in-law into a retirement home. George finds a compromise by inviting his granddaughter Tara to share his house near her new University so she can keep an eye on him and report back to her mum, Bridget.

During the story, we find out more about how George’s dreams and ambitions in the music world were derailed, how Tara needs to find her own path in life (and not be railroaded by her boyfriend) and how Bridget needs to find some happiness. Tara and George develop a new relationship, based on their enjoyment of music.

There are lots of funny moments to make you laugh out loud but also heartbreaking moments too. As readers of my reviews know, I always appreciate a dog being included in the story and George has Hunter, his ageing Labrador. I also thoroughly enjoyed the music references and found myself watching Homeward Bound by Paul Simon on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHI2nWdRdXw

This is a book I’m happy to recommend as a feel good but thought provoking read. Ideal for all ages.

The author – Richard Smith:

Before I dedicated myself to writing my first novel (‘Homeward Bound’) I was a producer of TV commercials, sponsored documentaries and educational and promotional films. It took me around the world and into places not normally accessible to visitors – up to the top of the Elizabeth Tower to see Big Ben strike twelve, on a speed boat around the Needles and North Sea oil platforms, and to the Niger Delta in Africa . . . to name but a few. It’s been a privilege and made me a terrible tourist! While I always hoped my films were saying something useful and might even make a difference, rather worryingly two of them were featured in a British Library annual exhibition, ‘Propoganda’!

Writing the book meant giving up the filming (you can’t develop characters in a novel when there’s a video edit or a voice-over script to be delivered) and making writing a nine to five. My office was public libraries – free from distractions and with the discipline that I couldn’t go home until my laptop battery had run out of energy. 

‘Homeward Bound’ is fiction but it’s based on things I’ve seen, experienced or learned through my life (I’m 70 going on a bit more) and hopefully, readers will recognise the characters in the novel, finding them loveable and interesting, while reminding them of the passing of time and the value of family.





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