I want to be friends with Romily
Erica James’ prose is full of beautiful descriptions of people and places which soon become familiar and a sharp perception of character, both their virtues and their flaws. Coming Home to Island House has at its centre, Romily - an ahead-of-her-time rebellious spirit, almost perfect in looks and deed. This makes the book likeable but ultimately a little less believable. I adored Romily - but where was the fault, the weakness, the chink in her armour?
Yes, she was a little older than most romantic heroines, but not by much, and she had suffered a loss but even taking into account her many life experiences, she was without fault in everything she did, on the page. No-one is that self-possessed no matter what they've been through. It’s a very easy read by a very smooth writer who ladles on the charm and the necessary wartime heartbreak. If anything, it may have been more interesting had the book been set after the country had recovered from war, doing without the heightening of life which it brings. The varied, strong personalities of the Devereaux clan would have then had less reason to regret and come together and it may have brought about more ingenious ways of making them reconcile. One character is somewhat polished into another altogether by the end and this was a disappointment. I found myself wanting to read on to discover what happened with the ‘baddie’, how on earth such an unlikeable streak could be resolved, or even if it could and why he had behaved quite as he had. However, his storyline was a bit of a cop out in the end. And I still don’t really know why he was quite as rotten as he was. The children (and the dog) are written with such care and delicacy, they almost make you want a spin off to see what they get up to as they grow up. A fun tale, beautifully written, with some bittersweet moments but a little too neat for me.