Monday 27 April 2015

Review ~ Learn To Love Again by Ellen Faith.

Title: Learn To Love Again.
Author: Ellen Faith.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Publication Date: March 14, 2015.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Living in a small seaside village can have its perks, but after the death of her husband, Lillie Gilbert finds the people she grew up with turning against her faster than the tide rolls out.

As she grieves for the life they planned, the life they’ll never live, she leans on her best friend for support and tries to come to terms with the fact that one day, she may have to open up her heart to a new life and new love.

After losing her childhood sweetheart, can Lillie really learn to love again?

I fell in love with Ellen Faith’s writing back when I read her romantic comedy, Home for the Holidays, last year. Learn To Love Again is a different prospect altogether, with the story revolving around Lillie, grieving after the sudden death of her husband. This novella is more delicately and sensitively written but Ellen showed she can write it all. Learn To Love Again is a moving, heart-breaking story but written with the author’s typical warmth and a kind of hopeful optimism which leaves you feeling like there is a little way out of even the most consuming grief.

Our main character Lillie is desperately mourning after her husband’s death. She blames herself, other residents of Barton-by-the-Sea blame her too and she loses the ability to even speak, feeling nothing but pain. There is no way out. The story begins at Nick’s funeral and Lillie is in an understandably bad place. The description of her pain and heartache was so sad and so touching and I think right from the first couple of pages, I was really hoping for someone or something to bring her a little bit of happiness again, when the time was right.

On the day of the funeral, Lillie and Nick’s best friend Sam returns and he really was the best kind of friend. Thoughtful, understanding but realistic too, Sam sticks around to try and help Lillie become something similar to the person she was before, to help her live again. I loved Sam’s patience and how hard he tried to help Lillie without encouraging her to let go of any feelings for Nick. Grief is something everyone suffers differently and I thought it was admirable how he put everything in to trying to help Lillie cope when he lost someone so important to him too.

Through Lillie and Sam’s friendship, we really get to learn about Nick and why he was such a special guy for both of them. Ellen did such a beautiful job at building up Nick’s character to the same extent as Lillie and Sam, even though he’d already died before the book begins. His character was highly developed and it was quite easy to see how Lillie fell for him so much.

Learn To Love Again is a novella and it does get straight to the point very quickly. As much as I am a fan of novellas, I do feel that at times this was a little too concise and on occasion, we were told things that I wanted to see explored more. Things such as Nick’s depression and the character of Aimee, plus a few other things I can’t mention for spoilers. I’m not saying Learn To Love Again should be a full length novel, though it would have worked, just that I might have enjoyed it that little bit more if it was extended a bit so the development was equally great throughout.

My favourite part of this book was by far, the flashbacks that tell us so much about Nick. Every time this book delved a little into the past, I was enthralled and I could really warm to Lillie’s character and see how much grief was affecting her, as the moments with Nick were mostly happy and full of fun and then everything fell apart for her. Though this book handled such a sad theme, and I expect it to be a tearjerker for some, I didn’t actually cry (and I’m such a nightmare at book-crying). But I think that’s because grief is such a personal thing and though I could of course connect with Lillie because she’s lost her wonderful husband, as a reader I got to know Nick just like he was still around. We learn so much about his lovely character that he was actually my favourite and with that, it made all the raw emotion and sadness felt by Lillie so believable and realistic.

Learn To Love Again is a very honest, emotive story written beautifully by Ellen. It’s a very poignant novella but one which, to me, gives you a little bit of a push and that little bit of strength to say, things will be not so bad in the end.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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