What’s it all about?:
Joy is estranged from her only daughter, Kate, and knows little of her sixteen-year-old granddaughter Sabine. But all that is about to change when Sabine arrives, seeking shelter at her grandparents’ house in Ireland — the very place from which her mother, Kate, ran years before.
Suddenly, with an impetuous and inquisitive young woman in the house, Joy finds herself facing long-buried secrets of her past. And Kate, too, must bridge the painful chasm between herself, her daughter, and ultimately, her mother. Coming together, these three generations discover fundamental truths about love, duty, and the unbreakable bond that unites them as mother, daughters, and women.
What did I think?:
I have become a huge fan of Jojo Moyes work ever since reading her fantastic novel Me Before You and have made it my mission to read her back catalogue. This is why I was particularly excited to read her debut novel Sheltering Rain which was first published in 2002. This is a novel about three generations of women – Joy who spent many of her formative years in Hong Kong in the 1950’s which is also where she met and married her soldier husband Edward. They had perhaps what could be called a whirlwind romance with Edward proposing within days of meeting Joy and marrying her when he next returned to the country. Their marriage appears to be idyllic especially when Joy compares her life to that of her friends, and to be honest I’m not a big believer or fan of what they now call “insta-love,” so I was a teeny bit sceptical of their entire relationship. However, I should not have doubted the author, as years later certain events are uncovered that show the darker side of their marriage, proving that nothing can always be perfect.
In the modern day setting, Joy and Edward own a successful horse farm in Kilcarrion, Ireland. They have a daughter Kate who is estranged from them and ran away from Ireland to London at a young age to escape the tensions and problems in the household. Kate also has a daughter called Sabine and history seems to be repeating itself as their relationship as mother/daughter is also quite fraught. Kate does not have the best luck romantically, and Sabine is getting a bit fed up with a succession of relationships that bring a father figure into her life for it to not work out and them being removed from her life. When Joy calls Kate from Ireland to tell her that her father Edward is very ill, Kate jumps at the chance for Sabine to go to the farm and get to know her grandmother and grandfather properly, whilst also giving her a break from Kate’s latest romantic disaster.
Sabine hates Ireland. She hates the farm and horses, and finds her iron-willed grandmother Joy very difficult to get to know, understand and get on with. Sabine also finds it very difficult to communicate with her old grandfather, misses all her friends and life in London and is still bitter and exasperated with her mother. Over time however, as we learn about all three generations of women and understand them all a bit better, the fragile relationships between the three appear to be slowly mending themselves. Before that happens there is still a lot of heart-ache to go through for all three, secrets to be unearthed and bridges to be built.
One of the things I loved about this book as with many of the authors novels is that you get a perspective from all three lead characters and a switch in time-lines from the past to the present day. This is such an effective tool in getting to know the characters as a reader and provides explanations for things that have happened which make them the person they are in modern times. I think I loved and got irritated by all three women in equal measures due to the consequences of certain actions in their pasts but I think one of the signs of a good story is that the characters should bring out some raw emotion in the reader. By the end of the novel, we have seen a change in Joy, Kate and Sabine for the better due to their experiences, but I also enjoyed that the author did not try and sugar-coat their lives in that it will be a “happy ever after” for them all, and that there would still be challenges ahead.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: The Ship of Brides coming soon!