‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’
Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.
As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.
I would like to thank the publisher Doubleday, author Barney Norris and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC copy of Turning For Home in return for an honest review.
I recently heard blogger Savidge Reads talk on his Youtube channel about how some books just ‘chime’ with you as a reader. It’s a perfect way to explain, how there are books that for one reason or another, make a connection with a book lover, which will never be broken.
Without any doubt this book will forever be one of my most cherished reads and started off 2018 with a resounding five star rating. It will take a supreme effort for another book to knock it from the dizzying heights I have placed it on, among my all time favourite reads. Much like Tin Man, which was my favourite book of 2017, Barney Norris’s second novel is hauntingly beautiful and will stay with me for some time.
It is rare for me to find myself emotionally connected to a book, but it was instant with Turning For Home. Both main characters seemed to speak to me and I loved them both without question. I wanted throughout, to take a journey with them, to wherever Barney Norris had decided their fate lay. He made me care and captured my heart from the opening sentence.
We all want to read great books and Turning for Home is an outstanding piece of literature. One for which Barney Norris should be celebrated and showered with praise. The prose is lyrical and speaks straight to the heart of the reader of love and the complicated relationships we form, with the many strands of family and loved ones throughout our lives. Barney Norris has an intrinsic understanding of human frailty and how the dreams we have of the lives we will lead, are tied up with the reality of experience and the pain of giving of ourselves to others. His writing reminds me of the poetic style of the late writer Helen Dunmore, whose book The Lie was imbued with a tale of haunting simplicity and yet was at the same time astonishingly intimate.
If you want to step into the pages of a great book then this should be there on the top table. It filled me with wonder and and joy. It’s an emotional read at times, but it gives you hope that even when life shatters the dreams you held dear, new ones can hold you closeted in their safe embrace. It said to me that we are more than the day to day routine of work and responsibility; we are indeed both dreamer and builder of castles in the sky.
Barney Norris is one of Britain’s finest young talents and Turning For Home is a crowning achievement confirming all the promise he displayed in his first novel Five Rivers Met On a Flooded Plain. Both are the work of a wonderfully talented writer and I am excited to see all the books he will write in the years to come.
Barney Norris is a critically acclaimed playwright, poet and author. For his debut full-length play Visitors, which ran at that Arcola before transferring to the Bush in November 2014, he won the Critics Circle Award 2014 for Most Promising Playwright. He was also shortlisted for the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Most Promising Playwright, the Writers Guild of Great Britain 2014 award for Best Play and the Best New Play Award at the Off West End Theatre Awards 2014. Visitors received rave star reviews in publications such as the Guardian, The Times, the Telegraph and the New York Times. His first non-fiction book Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill was published by Seren in February 2014, and his first book of poetry, Falling, was published by Playdead Press. He is the co-artistic director of theatre company Up in Arms, and from the autumn of 2015 will be the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. He has a BA (Hons) from the University of Oxford and an MA (Hons) from Royal Holloway, University of London.
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