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

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Lives She Left Behind - James Long - Guest book review

Guest book review by Joan Hill

This novel is the sequel of the much-loved debut novel written by James Long and called ‘Ferney’, although it could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. It tells the story of the modern day meeting of two teenagers Jo and Luke, both lost to the love of their parents and lonely in their singular lives, but knowing in their innermost convictions that they are both one half of a perfect whole, a love that will endure for all time.

Jo and Luke have always been destined to meet, destined to complete what began when, many hundreds of incarnations before, and spanning many generations, a young boy called Ferney took the momentous decision to exile himself from his own people and save his enemy, a young girl called Galley, captured and awaiting her fate, thereby delivering her from the ravages of war.

Their lives and journeys together make for fascinating and far-reaching historical stories stretching from Stamford Bridge to Slapton Sands, the circle being completed with the modern day story of their reunion at an archaeological dig at Mortacute, the site of a Norman castle. Spanning three genres: Historical fiction, Fantasy and Romantic Fiction this well written novel is a very satisfying read, both as a conclusion to ‘Ferney’ and also for devotes of any of the three genres.

By the end of ‘The Lives She Left Behind’, all of the loose ends are tied up; there is a powerful ending to both the romantic and historical threads and the modern day story threw mystery, suspense and a crime story into the pot. At no time did I find this novel to be predictable, it kept me guessing, engaged and turning the pages to find out what happened next and with a profound sense of loss when I’d read the last paragraph. It was an emotional roller coaster which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I also loved the cover of the book. If one image could encapsulate this powerful story, then this one is surely the best that could have been chosen. In this picture, there lies the whole story in the small nuances of what the image suggests.

Reviewed by Joan Hill, guest reviewer. Many thanks to Joan for reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library.

Source: review copy
Publisher: Quercus


  1. The premise is compelling and this sounds like an intriguing book. I would definitely want to read the first installment first, however.

  2. I'm with Brian. Sounds like a good read and one I'd probably enjoy with or without having read the first book.

    Great review, thanks Joan.


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