Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 7 September 2012

Somebody to Love - Sheryl Browne



'Laugh,' he said....You do it beautifully.'

Donna O'Connor is a single mum to teenager Matt, and wonderful three-legged dog Sadie and little houserabbit Findus. She works in an office but would ideally like to get involved in working directly with children with difficulties, at a respite home, helping them learn. Her first marriage ended, her ex-husband Jeremy now having taken up with someone new, and being less than helpful with his fathering duties to Matt.

Mark is a policeman and single father to his autistic son, Karl. He would love to find a lasting relationship with someone who can accept him and Karl as they are, but fears that this will ever happen.  So when he meets Donna, and feels an instant attraction, he hesitates before telling her the full facts about his life, despite sensing she is a kind-hearted lady. And for her part, Donna wonders if Mark would 'really want to be embroiled in the life of a single mum and all the problems that went with it?' Not telling the truth initially to each other, though, means that lies and misunderstandings abound, and any chance of love is in jeapody.

This author shows a true understanding and appreciation of how rewarding relationships between humans and animals can be. She writes about relationships convincingly, and has created warm, likeable, but flawed and therefore very human characters in Donna and Mark. Equally, Sheryl Browne writes with sensitivity and understanding regarding Karl, and with authority and insight as to the possibilities an autism assistance dog can offer a child's life; 'Assistance dogs can vastly improve the quality of an autistic child's life, and thereby that of the parents and carers. As well as allowing them some independence, they provide companionship, unconditional love, a source of comfort and consistency when environments change and anxiety might be high.' This is illustrated through Karl's encouragingly positive steps with his new canine companion Starbuck by his side; 'Karl studied the dog for a second, his hair plastered to his head, his chest heaving, that familiar furrow in his brow that had Mark constantly wondering what he was thinking. What went on in a six-year-old mind where abstract ideas made no sense? Mark is thrilled when, immediately subsequent to this, Karl runs alongside with his dog and they play together, slowly developing Karl's behaviour.

I liked both Donna and Mark, and wished they had had more confidence at times, and less doubt about themselves and each other, but this is often the case in real life - we can't find the confidence to believe we are deserving. Yet they are two lovely people, and the misunderstandings and complications are frustrating because I felt that I knew they should be together, and I wanted them to have just one moment together alone, uninterupted by children, parents or animals to be able to set things straight!

Despite their shared nervousness, there are glimpses and moments of tenderness early on which show how much they actually like each other. When Mark tells Donna he would always want to make her laugh and smile it means so much to her.  'It was such a small thing he'd said, but so poetic in its simplicity, her disorientated heart felt full to overflowing. He hadn't been gushing, full of false compliment designed to impress. He'd picked on the one thing she quite liked about herself: her smile, which she hadn't had a reason g to use much lately.'

The supporting cast of characters, including Donna's mum Evelyn and sister Alicia, and Mark's father Robert, as well as Evelyn's friend Dot, and Agnes from the park, all add to the narrative. I thought the dialogue between Donna and her son Matt was particularly well-written and fitting.

I feel that this story has been written with real warmth and heart, with a wry humour at the ups and downs that life throws at people. It was lovely to read a story where companion animals feature prominently, as they so often provide us with much needed company and unconditional love. In particular rabbits and dogs, which are both close to my own heart.

I have to finish by saying that this is the cutest book cover ever! The absolutely adorable Findus the rabbit featuring so sweetly with his adoring human friend means I will never get tired of looking at it!

Published by Safkhet Soul

Thank you to the author and publisher for kindly sending an ebook copy of this novel to read and review. 

You can read a feature posted on my blog earlier this year about this book and the author here.

You can follow the author on twitter @SherylBrowne and visit her website here.

Find out more about the book and Safkhet here. 


26 comments:

  1. Lindsay, I always love your reviews and your thoughtfulness. This is a lovely review for Sheryl's latest masterpiece, congrats! I have Somebody to Love on my reading list (what I don't have is enough time, hahaha) and can't wait to get stuck in. Nice feature, well done!

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    1. Isn't a thoughtful review, Nicky. Sniffle. Am feeling quite proud (and a little overwhelmed). Love it!

      Thanks so much for commenting, sweetie. :) xx

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    2. Thanks for your lovely kind comment Nicky. I hope you enjoy this one too when you come to read it.

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  2. I echo Nicky's sentiments Lins. Another fab review where you not only review the book but give your blog readers personal snippets :)

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    1. I love those snippets! I'm going to use them (if Lindsay doesn't mind). You know how you scramble around for appropriate excerpts, drives you made sometimes. Lindsay's done me a huge favour! Thank you, m'dear! :) xx

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    2. Thanks for your lovely comment Shaz. Sometimes sections strike me and I like to come back to them at the end and sometimes use them in my review. x

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  3. A brilliant review Lindsay, for a fabulous read! Sheryl is an amazing author and I love the way she includes some wonderful four-legged 'stars'. Congrats Sheryl!

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    1. It is, isn't it? BRILLIANT! Yay! Pinch. Pinch. Can't quite believe it. Loving it! Just going to email link to publisher. FABulous! Thanks so much, Linn! :) xx

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    2. Thanks very much for commenting Linn and for your kind words. I love the animal stars.

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  4. Now I've gone and started filling up! Oh, Lindsay, what an absolutely lovely, beautiful review. THANK you soooo very much. I love how you have used quotes so very aptly. I didn't know I could write like that! It’s true I think that life (and love) can sometimes corrode away your confidence. No one can fix it. Only you can do that. Love isn’t a cure all. But sometimes an encouraging gesture or word from those around you who care can start you on the right path. Thank you for getting that. The characters (and animal characters :)) in this book mean so much to me, as you’ve obviously gleaned. Mark’s chuffed. Donna’s fluffing up her little chest feathers! And so am I! Thrilled to bits! Thank you! Again!! :) xx

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment Sheryl x

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  5. Ooops, forgot! I adore the cover, too. Smile from ear to ear, every time I look at it! :) xx

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  6. I'll stop doing this in a minute! Thank you for the link back to my previous feature, too, Lindsay. Sums up how nervous I was, and how determined I was, to get the research right, I think. You review tells me I did. Thrilled to bits! :) xx

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    1. I think it really came across that you had put research and thought into this x

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  7. This is a superb review of a book you clearly enjoyed reading. And have to agree as the cute cover. Sheryl has written another lovely book. Thank you both, ladies.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment Kit. I did enjoy this one very much.

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    2. Thanks, Kit. It is - superb! So thrilled. :) Can't resist having another little share. xx

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  8. Its a fantastic book. I totally adored it. Sheryl writes so well and touches upon so many issues. Can't recommend this book enough. Great review. x

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting JB. I enjoyed your review of this one too. x

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  9. A real "feel-good" book, starting from the outside of the front cover right to the end of the book.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting Anneli. That sums it up wonderfully!

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  10. Brilliant review Lindsay, I also loved this book and agree that the cover is adorable :)

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting Kate. I loved your review of this one too. I love that rabbit! :)

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  11. Dear Lindsay,
    thank you so much for taking the time to write such a wonderful review about Sheryl's masterpiece so far!
    Your review will make people want to read the book, I am sure. And that will help encourage Sheryl to write more books just as lovely as this one, which will help me because I will get to read them and that will make me love my job even more!
    Cannot thank you enough for this review.
    Kim

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    1. Thanks ever so much for your kind comments Kim. I hope Sheryl will continue to write more books as I enjoy reading them.

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