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

Sunday 3 February 2013

Lighting Candles in the Snow - Karen Jones Gowen

‘You can live with a person for years and still not know him.’

Karoline London is twenty-nine years old. She has finally had enough of the way her husband Jeremy has being behaving towards her, and when he ruins the special evening they had planned for their sixth wedding anniversary, she realises she can't take anymore.

Thus begins a new period in Karoline's life, coming to terms with being alone again, filling her life, and when changes occur at work, something that has always shaped her days, her routine becomes even more altered and she grapples to keep a hold on her life. She has the support of her older sister Suzie, who is happily married with lots of children, and who therefore lives a very different life to Karoline. 

We follow Karoline through these difficult, transitional events in her life, through times that challenge her to be strong and to come out the other side. Karen Jones Gowen presents a warm-hearted and convincing portrait of a woman faced with major changes in her life, going from full and active days to being alone and bored.

This is an engaging, thoughtful novel, insightful regarding relationships. The author writes openly and movingly, creating a character many women will empathise with.

However, she also creates a complex, damaged character in Jeremy; he is not as straightforward as he seems, and through him the author explores the nature of self-doubt and the crippling damage of past pain that has been buried inside. She also touches on the idea of love and acceptance of all of a person, not just the good but the bad as well.

The idea of living and loving and thereby risking getting hurt in life or feeling safe but lonely by hiding oneself away is considered by Karoline: ‘What kind of life is it anyway if the sole purpose becomes saving oneself pain? Then why get married, why have children, why do anything? Why even walk outside your door, because you might get hurt? Just sit alone in your house day after day with nothing but the TV for company, to save yourself pain.’

I liked how the story developed, and the introduction of another character telling a little of their story towards the end of the novel, which sheds light on the past, was very effective and nicely done.

The setting is Salt Lake in Utah, and I found it fascinating to learn a little about this area.  Many recipes of the meals cooked or eaten in the story are included at the end of chapters which is a nice addition. I really enjoyed reading this moving and perceptive novel. 

Published by WiDo Publishing

Thanks to the author for kindly sending a copy of this novel to read and review.

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


  1. Lindsay, Thank you for reviewing Candles, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I really appreciate this wonderful review. I shared it to my Facebook page :)

    1. Karen, thank you for asking me to read and review your novel, I enjoyed it very much, and appreciate your commenting on and sharing my review. All best with your future writing.

  2. I really enjoyed your review. Candles sounds like something I want to read.

    1. Thanks Barbara that's very kind of you. It's a rewarding read.

  3. I liked this novel also, and am happy to see it get a good reader's feedback- on the nose!

    1. Lovely to hear from a fellow reader who enjoyed this book too. Thanks for commenting.

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