A little while ago I reviewed The Homecoming by Rosie Howard and thought it was a wonderful book. You can read my review here.
Today, it’s paperback publication day for The Homecoming and I’m absolutely delighted that Rosie is allowing me to give away three signed paperback copies of The Homecoming to lucky UK readers. Even better for me, I have been hosting a regular ‘staying in with…’ feature here on Linda’s Book Bag but Rosie has turned the tables and invited me over to Havenbury to spend an evening with her for a change!
The Homecoming is published by Allison and Busby and is available for purchase here.
Maddy fled the idyllic market town of Havenbury Magna three years ago, the scene of a traumatic incident she revisits most clearly in her dreams. Even so, when she is called back to help at the Havenbury Arms when her godfather Patrick suffers a heart attack, she is unprepared for the welter of emotions her return provokes.
Psychologist and ex-army officer Ben is sure he can help Maddy to resolve her fears, until he finds himself falling for her, and struggling with a recently uncovered family secret of which Maddy is blissfully unaware.
Then Maddy’s mother, Helen, arrives and Patrick himself must confront a few uncomfortable truths about his history and the pub’s future.
An Evening in Havenbury with Rosie Howard
Hi Linda, thanks so much for joining me this evening. What fun to have company, and what could be better than to be here at home, talking about Havenbury– a world which feels more like my home than anywhere I have ever been.
Hi Rosie, thank you so much for inviting me!
I would almost always rather stay in, than go out, wouldn’t you?
Normally I’m a great fan of a roaring fire a comfy chaise longue with lots of cushions and a large glass of red, but that hardly feels appropriate in all this heat. So here we are instead, lounging on a couple of steamer chairs, enjoying the last of the sun in a garden filled with roses, honeysuckle and pots of lavender with the sound of the church bells from a country wedding, competing with the pigeons cooing on the chimney stacks. Heaven!
Especially with a well-iced negroni in hand. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m more of a negroni girl than a G &T girl nowadays, because there’s nothing better than gin diluted with – well – yet more alcohol and if it makes memories of the evening before a bit hazy then sometimes that can be a good thing can’t it?
Actually, any alcohol makes everything hazy for me Rosie. I don’t drink much so it has a quick effect!
So, no, I don’t go out much nowadays, especially when I’m writing, but luckily the characters in my books are a bit more adventurous or nothing would ever happen. That said – I have made sure my Havenbury series – set in idyllic rural Sussex – is packed with homes you would never want to leave. The Homecoming is the first in the series, and the central theme is what ‘home’ really means to my central character, Maddy. When we meet her, she has been dragged back to Havenbury by a crisis and she struggling to stay where she really needs to be because of a terrible and mysterious past event. Not being able to remember it makes her feel she wants to run away, which – of course – doesn’t solve anything. My hope is that readers will be intrigued by the mystery of this and other secrets that emerge from the past. All ends well though – perhaps not in the way readers think it might – but it centres on whether Maddy will be able to recognise and accept where she truly belongs. Her mother Helen has a similar challenge in being forced to try and make sense of past mistakes and perhaps putting them right at last and there are other characters who have their story to tell too.
Oh, I am so pleased to hear The Homecoming is the first in the series as I loved it Rosie. Do you read much?
I read a lot myself; I adore books by writers such as Veronica Henry, Jill Mansell and Carole Mathews and one of the many features I love about them, is the way they create a complete world you want to inhabit. That means – among other things – giving readers the chance to bond with several characters across a wider age range. Nowadays I am a little dissatisfied by books where you would imagine no-one other than girls in their late twenties and men in their early thirties even existed.
As a woman approaching 60 rapidly I couldn’t agree more!
Of course, there are so many stories out there set in pretty areas of the country such as the Cotswolds, Devon and Cornwall and I love them all. There have been quite a few though… I live in a community much like Havenbury and I adore the idea of seducing readers with a world inspired by my own life near Arundel in Sussex. In Havenbury there is the river Haven, growing from an icy trickle on the chalk Downs to a wide, majestic river, flowing through the port of Havenbury Magna and then weaving its way across the coastal plain to the sea. Nestled side by side in the Downs are the villages of Little Havenbury and Havenbury Green with cosy cottages, a duck pond and cricket pitch. This is where Serena and Giles live with their two boys. They are the hosts of the Bespoke Consortium, a group of local craftspeople who Maddy – with her commercial brain – takes in hand. In contrast is the bustling market town of Havenbury Magna. The Havenbury Arms pub is halfway up the cobbled High Street, right in the centre of town. It is threatened with destruction by the evil pub companies but to lose it would be a disaster for the characters in the community who want to see it remain. Some of these characters have their time in the spotlight in future stories, so I hope readers enjoy meeting them. Our hero Ben, an ex-army psychology lecturer lives in his own little gem of a home – a converted wooden boathouse on the river at the foot of town – and his house was one I particularly enjoyed imagining and bringing to life. In fact, the building that inspired it is real. There is a café on the river in Arundel where I often sit and drink coffee, looking at the houses on the opposite bank. Ben’s is one of those, – although I have no idea what it really looks like inside…
Maybe we’ll find out in the next book?
I admit, there are days, when the world of Havenbury feels more real to my than my own, but don’t we all like to escape sometimes?
Yes we do!
The irony is that so many of us – like Maddy – are trying to run away, but really we are trying to return to our own sense of ‘home’ – our place, where we feel we belong. With this admitted compulsion to create a sense of ‘home’ in my stories I sometimes wonder whether I am some damaged soul trying to heal myself of my past. It is not that I had a terrible childhood, but I did feel rootless; I was largely educated in a series of Convent boarding schools – raised by nuns – whilst my parents were living abroad because of my father’s work. My parents eventually bought a house in the little village where I live now with my family. Sadly my parents are no longer living there, but we have firm friends in the community and are bringing up our family in a little brick and flint house with roses around the door.
I am home at last. Now Linda, are you ready for a top up?
Oh, yes please. And whilst we let UK readers enter the giveaway for The Homecoming, maybe you can give me a sneak preview of the next Havenbury book…
About Rosie Howard
With a father in the forces and the diplomatic corps, Rosie Howard spent much of her childhood in UK boarding schools, joining her parents in exotic destinations during holidays. After obtaining a degree in music she pursued a career in public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and freelance journalism but realized her preference for making things up and switched to writing novels instead. She lives in a West Sussex village with her husband and two children in a cottage with roses around the door.
UK Signed Paperback Giveaway of The Homecoming
For your chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of The Homecoming by Rosie Howard, click here.
UK only. Giveaway closes at UK midnight on Sunday 22nd July. Good luck!