REVIEW: The Time To Say Goodbye by Miranda Barnes
Sometimes the best way to hold on is to let go…
Newly widowed Gwen Morgan needs a change of scene… An invitation to stay with old school friend Kate and her partner Gerry in the quaint coastal village of Haxton in Northumberland, gives Gwen the inspiration she needs to start navigating her life without her loving and supportive husband Dan.
With its beautiful vista and friendly locals Gwen starts to feel very much at home as she makes new friends, including the young and delightful Oliver Fenwick and the down to earth early-retired widower Ken Richards. Kate thinks Gwen’s blossoming friendship with Ken could lead to something more.
However, Gwen remains unconvinced that she and Ken are anything other than friends, although she has not ruled out finding love again one day. But when Gwen returns home to Kent, it no longer feels like home. Without Dan there she feels like a stranger in her own house and she starts to long for the fresh start that Dan encouraged her to make after he was gone.
With Dan’s words of encouragement echoing in her ear, Gwen returns to Haxon and starts to embrace her new life there, moving into a charming cottage and finally setting up her very own artistic business. She is now ready for the next chapter in her life to begin, just as Dan had wanted.
But what will this it bring…?
Dear Ms. Barnes,
I do enjoy the settings of your stories and this is a major reason I first started reading your books. Here Northumberland is lovingly described and not just a wallpaper setting. Gwen is delighted with her friend Kate’s seaside house including a wonderful room where Kate does her book illustrations. Watching Kate and her partner Gerry’s loving but still sometimes contentious relationship forces Gwen to reexamine her own marriage and still fresh grief of widowhood. She also compares the artistic achievements of Kate with her own middle aged life output – a house, a garden, a former job with a few close friends – but nothing lasting, nothing to out live her. Nothing to really show for her years of working as a bureaucrat.
Out walking, Gwen happens upon two interesting men: young jack-of-all-trades Oliver and middle aged Ken who’s originally a townie like herself who must have some mid-life crisis behind him. Getting to know both of them as well as an older woman looking to sell her cottage, Gwen discovers this place. It’s almost like a different country from the South and London. But it appeals to her as she realizes home isn’t home anymore and that she needs to start over elsewhere to begin the next phase of her life.
The book lives up to the publisher tag of women’s fiction and is the gentle, understated story of a woman coping with the loss of her husband who slowly emerges from grief and reaches for the next part of her life. She takes a chance and recaptures a love of art she had set aside and not only revitalizes herself but her newly adopted village. By the end, a new romance might one day be in the cards but for now Gwen has a fresh start and the hopeful future her husband had wanted for her. B-