Tuesday, 5 May 2015

We are all made of stars - Rowan Coleman - heart wrenching and uplifting

The blurb

What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love? What would you write?

Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as Vincent locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients, detailing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and posts them after their death.

That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time, to give her patient one final chance of redemption...

My review

Rowan Coleman - you did it again - tore my heart in two, then sewed it back together. I'm clearly a more sensitive soul than I imagined, I sobbed my way readily throughout this stunning work, but by the end, even though I felt as though I'd been through the wringer, had a big smile on my face. It IS uplifting and it's also heart wrenching, especially if you've ever lost someone and not had the time to say your goodbyes.

This book cleverly tells the stories of several people, there is Stella (Stella means star by the way) who is working as a nurse in a hospice, throwing all her energy into helping people who have a terminal illness, nursing them and caring for them and helping them by writing last letters to their loved ones when they are too ill or tired to put pen to paper themselves. But at home things aren't going smoothly, the love of her life, her husband Vincent, has returned from Afghanistan with his leg missing and his soul in shreds.

These letters form the backbone of the book, one is included at the end of each chapter and even though you don't even get to know a lot of the people for whom these are written these little, poignant vignettes allow a peek into dying peoples lives and hearts and it was often these which tore me up most.

One of her patients in the hospice is Hope, she is only 21 and has Cystic Fibrosis, a life threatening condition which has nearly finished her off, but she is going to live to fight on another day and throughout her life her best friend Ben has been there as her rock, her best pal and we get to know him as well as her (I fell in love with this lovely caring young man, more than a little bit)

There is Issy only 14, she won't see 15 but at the hospice Stella and Hope manage to make her laugh and feel like the teenager she is - not the terminal patient she has become.

Hugh's story seems unrelated at first, he curates a museum, lives alone, apart from his cat, cat's feature heavily in this book! When new neighbours move in, a young single Mum and her son he isn't prepared for the impact these people will have on his existence.

In that impeccable Coleman way these stories intertwine beautifully and the parts make one whole, which is intense, emotional, engaging and truly stunning.

I thought Rowan's "The Memory book"The Memory Book was a fabulous read and that she couldn't possibly outdo it, but this new novel holds its own alongside this. It's gentle and lovely and will appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes

Well done Rowan Coleman (even though I should be really cross with you for the swollen eyed look which is becoming de rigeur after a late night session with one of your books!)

My thanks to the folks at www.lovereading.co.uk who sent me this copy to read and review in advance of publication read my review and others on their site here

1 comment:

  1. I've been seeing this book everywhere. Nice review, and perhaps time it should make my tbr pile.


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