Leah's Reviews > The Happy Home for Broken Hearts

The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman
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's review
Nov 15, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-read-2010, favorites
Read on November 18, 2010

Ellen Woods spends her days immersed in the escapist pages of the romantic novels she lovingly edits. But her reality is somewhat less rose-tinted. Once upon a time, Ellen had her ‘happily ever after’ moment when she married her beloved Nick, but fifteen years later her husband’s tragic death leaves her alone with their soon-to-become-a-teenager son, faced with a mountain of debt, and on the verge of losing the family home. On the brink of bankruptcy, Ellen finally succumbs to her sister’s well-meant bullying and decides to rent out some rooms. And all too soon the indomitable Allegra with her love for all things lavender, Sabine on secondment from Berlin and estranged from her two-timing husband, and unreconstructed lads’ mag aficionado Matt enter her ordered but fragile existence – each with their own messy life in tow. And Ellen finds herself forced to step out of the pages of the romantic novels she hides behind, and learn to live – and love – again. Maybe a new chapter is about to begin for them all…

A couple of years ago I read a fantastic novel called The Accidental Mother, by Rowan Coleman. I thought the book was hilarious, and rushed out to get the sequel enjoying that just as much. It cemented Rowan into an author I would definitely be keeping an eye on for all future releases and as soon as I heard about her new one The Happy Home For Broken Hearts, I couldn’t wait to read it. It sounded right up my street and although it’s taken me a couple of months since it’s release to actually get a copy, as soon as I did it shot to the top of my to be read pile and I absolutely loved it.

The Happy Home For Broken Hearts seems to be a bit different to her The Accidental Mother/The Accidental Family double, but I could probably still tell it was the same writer, as the book is filled with the same warmth, realness and laughter of Rowan’s previous novels. The book begins at a sad point in Ellen’s life as she’s burying her husband after he died in a car crash, we then skip forward to almost a year later and Ellen finds out that herself and her son Charlie, have got no money left. Her sister, Hannah, suggests she rents out the three spare rooms she has in her luxurious Hammersmith house. Cue romance novelist Allegra, German Sabine fleeing from her cheating husband, and lads mags aficionado Matt entering her house as her new lodgers. And as the weeks and months pass, she finds herself enjoying having the new lodgers in her house, and it seems she could be finally turning a new corner in her life.

I really enjoyed the plot of the novel, the lodgers moving in happens really quickly and I found that they really added to the book. They force Ellen to realise that, actually, ever since her husband died – maybe even before that – she was living the life of a hermit, not going out, not doing anything remotely sociable, and just essentially wasting away her life. Her only reason for living is her son Charlie, yet all Charlie is concerned about is the fact his mum isn’t really the mum he knew before his dad died. I thought Coleman handled Ellen’s situation really well, her grief, her lack of moving on, and the lodgers bring some added colour to the greyness of Ellen and Charlie’s life. There are some twists and turns to the book, and Ellen’s sister Hannah is a bit of a mystery, acting out and drinking a bit too much, and I guessed her secret fairly early on, which was mildly unfortunate but didn’t make too much difference to the story to me.

I really liked Ellen, she’s a very shy, very timid character but she has a lot of heart and it was clear that what happened to her husband hit her very hard, as once she and Nick got married he became her whole focus, until Charlie came along. I liked what the lodgers brought out in Ellen, and I couldn’t help wishing she would overcome everything that was thrown her way. As for her son, Charlie, he’s the most astute 11-year-old (nearly 12) I’ve ever come across in a novel. Honestly, you won’t find a more clued-in child character anywhere. He was wise beyond his age, and I felt so sad that after his father died he had to grow up so quick. I found all three of the lodgers very enchanting, Allegra was just wonderful, an aging romance novelist who tells it like it is, and I loved her immediately. Sabine was more studious, but she had her great moments and I just fell in love with Matt. I didn’t like what he did to girls at first, but eventually, he won me around, and was one of my favourite characters. The only character that I didn’t know what to make of was Hannah. She’s nice enough, but she has her darker moments where she just isn’t likeable at all and her secret is horrible.

I thought The Happy Home For Broken Hearts was incredibly well written, Rowan Coleman has done a stunning job in the writing of this novel. I was truly very impressed with the issues covered through the novel, and I raced through the book finishing it as quickly as I humanly could. It’s warm, uplifting, and it shows that strangers really can impact on your life, and make it change for the better. I can’t wait to see what Rowan brings out next, I absolutely adore her novels and this is definitely Rowan Coleman at her tip-top best!
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11/18 page 218
01/28 marked as: read
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