Monday, 20 May 2019

Keep you by my side by Callie Langridge


The past is a dry and dusty place.  Life is too short to look back and regret what we can't change.

At sixteen, Abi is convinced she knows everything about her family.  Her mum, Rose, is strict because she mistakenly believes she can turn Abi into the perfect daughter.  Abi's nan, Gertie, couldn't care less about her granddaughter's messy hair and love of art rather then arithmetic and is always there with a positive word, a glass of lemonade and a hug.

When Abi's family is forced to relocate from London to nan's cottage perched high on a cliff in Dorset, Abi becomes an isolated misfit.  She finds escape from the school bullies in a new and thrilling friendship with a local girl.  But with three generations under one roof, long-kept secrets made in love begin to unravel: Gertie's past in WWII Blitz-torn London and the fallout of her friendship with a young Canadian serviceman; Rose's final holiday with her parents in Dorset in 1963 and an all-consuming romance just weeks before she heads off to university in Edinburgh.

Devastating revelations shake Abi to the core.  Everything she believes about her life and family are turned on it's head.  She is forced to make the hardest decisions to save everyone she loves but not without sacrifice and making painful secrets of her own.

As the past and present lives of he three women unfold from the 1940's to the 1980's we see how
far people will go to protect the people they love.

Author: Callie Langridge
Publisher: Bombshell Books
Publication Date: October 2018

My Review

Keep You By My Side: a novel about love, lies and family by [Langridge, Callie]
This was a lovely heart warming read.  The first few chapters were OK and my initial thoughts were this is going to be a nice book but then you really start to get sucked into the characters worlds.                                                                                                                                                                   
The story spans 3 generations of a family and it's almost written like three individual stories that somehow manage to intertwine before, at the end, the whole story is knitted together.  The landscape for each period in time in nicely portrayed without being to heavy.                                                                                                                                                                         
First off we meet Gertie in 1945.  She faces the harsh life of war torn Britain.  The scenes in this era of the book are very vividly written and you can imagine the horrors of living through the bombings and the loss that ensues.

Next we jump to Abi in 1986.  Her family are facing hard times so when they have to pack up their life and move to her Nan's Cliff top cottage in the middle of nowhere Abi finds the going tough.  She is faced with having to start a new school and stand up to the local bullies but soon finds her new best friend Penny.  I love the image I drew up when the two girls were huddled in the bedroom playing recordings of Top of the Pops.  It was a throw back to my own teenage years.

A little further into the book and we meet Rose in 1963.  She's on holiday with her parents and is bracing herself for a big step in her life where she plans to head to Edinburgh to study as a Doctor but things don't turn out as expected.

All families have secrets and lies and this family is not on it's own but it's what you do with the secrets that can make or break a family.

The first half of the book is very gentle where we build up the characters and really get to know them but then the pace quickly increases and things take a turn for the worst for each of the generations.  Each character has their own secret which is eventually revealed.  There are some heartbreaking moments in the book and at times I really wanted to shout at the characters, Abi in particular, not to do it. But then we wouldn't have the story that I really enjoyed.

This is a book to snuggle up with on a rainy afternoon with a large plate of biscuits and never ending cups of coffee and devour from start to finish. As you can tell I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more from this author.

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