After ten years, Beth Williams is ending her self-imposed exile in London to finally return to her childhood home, Glendale Hall in Scotland, just in time for Christmas. However, coming home means digging up old ghosts and facing the family that turned her away when she became pregnant at sixteen. As the holiday ramps up and secrets unravel, she discovers a past unlike the story she was led to believe. And after an old love shows up in the village, she realizes the happy ending she’s waited for might just be possible.
Family is complicated and Beth Williams certainly understands that better than most. She’s lived her life cut between two separate ones: her mother, father, and grandfather, who she feels abandoned her when she became pregnant as a teenager, and Isabelle, the daughter she’s devoted her every moment since then to. But circumstances spurred by the Christmas season force these two sides together in an unavoidable clash.
Author Victoria Walters milks this tension for everything it’s worth. This is a group of people who have suffered from a breakdown in communication long ago, and Walters drops hints at the start that everything could work out if only everyone would start actually talking and listening. It’s incredibly effective, more so because Beth reads like such a grounded, well-balanced woman. It’s easy to read into her side of the issues, casting her mother and father as unreasonable, almost callous. And yet when everything clicks into place through an expert reveal, it’s impossible not to want to see these characters work everything out.
While this makes for an entirely satisfying book in its own right, Walters weaves in an even bigger complications. If Beth hasn’t been home in ten years, she might as well tie up all of her loose ends in one go. Drew, Isabelle’s father, shows up in Glendale, and she has a few surprises for him. Their scenes together are utterly charming as their worlds are pulled together after so long without speaking. It’s a tour de force for anyone who enjoys a solid second chance romance.
Of course, no Christmas love story is complete without a charming, idyllic village, and Walters does not disappoint. Glendale is looking a little shabby at first, with rundown shops and a library on its last legs— a far cry from what Beth remembers. Yet as she finds an understanding with her family, she also senses an opportunity to do something about her hometown.
In the end, this all combines to form a beautiful examination of family and community in all of their shapes.
Title: Coming Home to Glendale Hall
Author: Victoria Walters
Publisher: Hera Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.