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Yvette - Bookworlder

Just a middle-brow reader who loves a good story, recipe or how-to.


The Things We Knew by Catherine West (review)

The Things We Knew - Catherine West

Occasionally I read a book that I need to wait to review, to put some distance between the story and the emotions it evoked in me so that I can talk about it coherently (read: not tear up thinking about it).  I read mainly for enjoyment and partly as an escape.  I read books that amuse, touch or inspire, that make me cry or laugh out loud.  Rarely, though, do I read a book of fiction that breaks my heart into little pieces.  This is the only way I can think to describe what this book did.  As I read it, my heart was slowly breaking for Lynette, Nick and to a lesser extent for the whole Carlisle family.


This could easily be brushed aside as just another story of a romance where a man and a woman who had secretly had crushes on each other meet again as adults, but there is so much more to it than that.  This is a story about responsibility, about family that is born and family that is made, it is about memories and how they can protect or harm, and about secrets and addictions.  It is also about coming home, healing, and the love and faith that helps see them through.


Catherine West has crafted a story and a strong cast of characters that grab hold of the reader and don't let go.  The relationships and individual struggles of the five siblings, and with Nick as an honorary sibling in childhood, were compelling and (having four siblings myself) quite believable.  The atmosphere/feel of the novel is a little bit Grey Gardens, a little bit Places in the Heart, and brings to mind the feel of the first few episodes of the TV show Parenthood... then again, it is nothing like them.


Easily one of my favorite books of the year, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I often say, when I enjoy a book, that I am looking forward to reading more from the author.  Here I will say that I need to read more from Catherine West.  I need to know the stories of the other Carlisle siblings and Wyldwood, their Nantucket family home.


This review refers to an ebook copy received from BookLook Bloggers for review.  The opinions expressed are my own.