Thank you to SJV at Books and the City / Simon and Schuster UK for a beautiful hardback copy of Home by Penny Parkes to read and review. This is the first book I’ve read by Penny Parkes but I have now added more of her books to my book trolley to read during the summer.
A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong.
Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.
But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.
Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.
Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do.
This was an emotional read a few months ago with an early digital proof copy. As I dipped in and out of the hardback copy this week, I remembered just how emotional this had made me feel. As a mother, it was heartbreaking to read about why Anna grew up in foster care, and had to keep moving on. Anna then headed off to Oxford University where she met Kate (and we find out about this period of her life in flashbacks), and we also join Anna in 2019, ten years after leaving University with The List. Anna has spent the past ten years moving on and only spending a short time at each house sitting location.
Anna’s relationship with her best friend from University has been her most important relationship since her childhood, and we slowly find out why Anna is concerned that Kate’s marriage to Duncan could change this. However events on the evening of the wedding (and not linked to the wedding), force Anna to make sudden changes and during an unplanned stay at the coast, meeting other young people including Henry, force her to think whether it is now time to stop moving on and to make her own home?
Meeting Callie, who has a fraught relationship with her mother, also causes Anna to analyse just what happened when her dad left and then her mum abandoned her too. Anna wants to help Callie but could her own past stop her?
I enjoyed reading this thought provoking book. Although the story is heartbreaking in places (and you may need to have a box of tissues handy), I’m pleased to say that it is compelling too as Anna starts to work out what she wants to do in the future and faces up to her past. I also enjoyed the fact that Anna and Kate love reading, and this love of reading is important to the story with Callie too.
This is a beautifully written book that should read by everyone working with children, so that they understand more about how children in foster care may feel. Sadly ‘the system’ appears to have many flaws and some children have horrendous experiences when actually every child deserves a Marjorie to champion them.
A five star read for me, this book is now available in bookshops in the UK.
Penny Parkes survived a Convent education largely thanks to a ready supply of inappropriate novels and her passion for writing and languages.
She studied International Management in Bath and Germany, before gaining experience with the BBC. She then set up an independent Film Location Agency and spent many happy years organising shoots for film, television and advertising – thereby ensuring that she was never short of travel opportunities, freelance writing projects or entertaining anecdotes.
Penny now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and a geriatric spaniel. She will often be found plotting epic train journeys through the Alps, baking gluten-free goodies or attempting to prove that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.