If you’re a regular visitor to Linda’s Book Bag it’ll come as no surprise to you to know how thrilled I was to receive a surprise early proof copy of Catherine Isaac’s The World At My Feet from the fabulous Sara-Jade Virtue at Simon and Schuster. I love Catherine’s writing and so I was delighted when Megan Denholm from EDPR asked me if I’d like to participate in the launch celebrations for The World At My Feet. It gives me great pleasure to share my review to day (and to wish Megan happy birthday!)
Catherine’s Messy, Wonderful Us was one of my books of the year in 2019 and I shared an extract from it here. I also reviewed it here. I adored Catherine’s You, Me, Everything which I reviewed here and was delighted to chat with her about that book on Linda’s Book Bag in a post you can read here.
The World At My Feet is published by Simon and Schuster and is available for purchase through the links here.
The World At My Feet
The dazzling new novel from Richard & Judy book club author Catherine Isaac, The World At My Feet is a story about the transforming power of love, as one woman journeys to uncover the past and reshape her future.
The secrets that bind us can also tear us apart…
1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule.
2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.
From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World At My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime.
My Review of The World At My Feet
Gardener Ellie has a problem.
Reading a new book by a favourite author is always a terrifying concept. What if I don’t like it? I didn’t like The World At My Feet. I loved it!
Whilst The World At My Feet had all the beautiful, descriptive and humane writing I have come to expect from a Catherine Isaac novel, this time there was an added extra. It’s somewhat difficult to articulate, but I felt as if the author had somehow invested more of herself in the narrative and as a result I felt even more personally affected. There’s not only Ellie’s agoraphobia that is so well researched and realistically conveyed, but the Romanian historical details are rich, deep and authoritative, making for a story that penetrates the reader’s mind and leaves them thinking about the narrative long after the book is closed. Indeed, after I’d finished reading the story and being entertained, I found The World At My Feet kept creeping back into my mind.
There’s a wonderful depth to the writing in The World At My Feet. Catherine Isaac’s ability to appeal to all the senses is glorious. The descriptions of Ellie’s garden lifted my spirits and it is no exaggeration to say that I was compelled to go out into my own garden as a result of my reading, so that it had a positive effect on my own emotional well-being, because I experienced the same lift from nature as does Ellie.
I loved meeting Ellie. She is such a complete human being who is battling an awful condition. She illustrates so effectively how we are affected by our past, even when we try to block it out and how metal illness is equally as life changing as physical illness. The World At My Feet conveys through Ellie the importance of love, of nature, family and friends which I think has enormous resonance in recent times. She had my sympathy and my empathy even when her realistic, flawed persona made her behave in ways I wanted her to reconsider, making her feel like a metaphor for life. I cared about her completely and she got right under my skin. It would spoil the story to say how and why her relationships with Guy and Jamie made me feel as they did, but I can say they had a visceral and profound impact on me, causing me to shout at the characters and to weep tears of joy and sadness at some of the outcomes.
Although I always profess that I’m not keen on dual timelines or multiple perspectives in books, I found Harriet’s story equally as engaging as Ellie’s. It might sound ridiculous, but because The World At My Feet is based in real events that I remember, I completely forgot that Harriet and Ellie are fictional characters. I think it’s the authority behind the writing that created such an effect.
Alongside the wonderful characters and perfectly balanced plotting are themes that elevate The World At My Feet beyond a beautifully told love story – a love story not just romantically, but within families too. Catherine Isaac explores identity – of culture, of place, and of our real and social media personas so that reading The World At My Feet gave an insight into how we construct ourselves for others. Loyalty and trust, true friendship and responsibility also underpin the story, adding layers to uncover, but it was the realistic portrayal of Ellie’s situation that held my attention so completely. I think reading The World At My Feet might just be life changing for some, giving them hope at difficult times.
I’m aware that I haven’t really done justice to The World At My Feet. If readers are looking for a light, fluffy diversion they may be disappointed. If, however, they want a book that explores humanity, is romantic, is transporting and is an utterly brilliant multi-layered read then Catherine Isaac’s The World At My Feet is exactly what they are looking for.
About Catherine Isaac
Catherine Isaac was born in Liverpool and was a journalist for many years before she wrote her first book, Bridesmaids, under the pseudonym Jane Costello. She wrote nine novels under that name – all bestsellers – before You Me Everything was published under the name Catherine Isaac in 2018. It was selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club, has been translated into 24 languages and a movie is in development by Lionsgate and Temple Hill. In 2019 she won the Romantic Novelists’ Association award for Popular Romantic Fiction. She lives with her husband and three sons.
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