My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 4 days
Source - RealReaders
Publisher - Penguin books
Pages - 488 (uncorrected proof)
Blurb from Goodreads
Sally is an incredible singer but she sings only in her wardrobe where nobody can hear her. She'd rather join a nudist colony than sing in public.
That is until she ventures to New York where a wild and heady summer of love and loss changes her forever. No longer able to hide in the shadows, Sally must return home to London to fulfill a promise she cannot break - to share her voice.
But just as she's about to embark on her new life, a beautiful man turns up on Sally's doorstep bearing a sheepish smile and a mysterious hand-written message.
How did he find her? Why is he here? Does he hold the truth to what happened back in New York? And, with him back on the scene, will she still have the courage to step into the spotlight?
Sally Howlett is our quirky main character, we meet her in the opening chapter with her teddy, after hiding out most of the day in her wardrobe. Sally does that, flees to her wardrobe when she is worried, needs time or is doing her number one thing in the world, singing. Coming from an estate, a family who like no fuss or standing out, it has been hard for her to sing anywhere else but the safety of her wardrobe. However, events have brought us to this moment and Sally is panicking, she has signed up to go to college and sing opera, she has an amazing talent and beautiful voice but has always had to shut it away. After a traumatic event in her past, she is bound by her word to share her talents and pursue it but there is so much in the way. Things from her past she would rather let go, always pleasing everyone but herself, her families utterly against such a pursuit and the biggest of them all, her crippling fear of anyone hearing her sing. Can Sally keep her word and do her diploma at the Royal College of Music, can she utter a note outside her wardrobe? Any why now, of all times, has the man from her past shown up to turn her world upside down. Sally will need to dig deep to deal with all the challenges she is faced with or forever hid in the safety of her wardrobe!
I honestly didn't think reading the blurb that I would like this novel. I was intrigued about the beautiful gentleman from her past but the whole music thing just didn't seem like it would interest me. I was wrong, very wrong! It is funny how you can relate to someone or something in a book that you, at first glance, could never imagine any comparison with at all. Sally grew up in an estate, opera is not something you expect one to be interested in let alone be able to engage with or produce the beauty that it is. Sally has such negative experiences and attitudes by those she loves she must lock it away, almost as a dirty secret. So now as an adult, to embrace it, to do something that goes against her core, pleasing everyone but herself, it is unthinkable. However Sally has depths and is learning and growing whilst having to face some of the most hurtful moments of her past, to deal with her promising future.
This book was a delight to read, there are so many levels to it, self growth, love, hurt, family dysfunction, betrayal, talent and that is only some of the themes. You will find yourself laughing out loud at some of the scenes, especially one or two with the fabulous Jan Borsos, it is naughty, funny, tongue in cheek and despite some mentions of sex, there is a beautiful innocence to some of the story. Sometimes the language they use toward each other felt, to me, a little out of place or young as they are performers, talented, educated and it just seemed like how a younger generation communicate rather than adults. However that said, it does work especially for Sally who is quite innocent despite being the mother role for Fiona, her hell raiser cousin, sister and best friend.
The time frame jumps around so it takes a while to discover what happened with Sally and the beautiful stranger who turns up at her door. To peel through the present day and some of the issues Sally carries with her and why she behaves as she does now. It is quite well signposted so you can follow the jumps in time well and slowly the back story is revealed. I have read this author before and would read her again, you can get your hands on this book from the 19th of June, 2014. Thank you so much to RealReaders for sending me this book, which I would certainly have passed over and missed out on a lovely tale, don't make that mistake and deprive yourself.