Today is publication day for Turning For Home, the second novel by Barney Norris, and I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour! I loved Norris’ debut novel, Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain, so was very excited about reading this one!
Turning For Home was initially written about the Boston tapes – the interviews given by former loyalist and republican paramilitaries regarding their involvement in the Troubles. And there are several fictional extracts from these tapes interspersed throughout this novel, which tells the story of a family and the events that have shaped them over the years. The narrative alternates between the perspectives of Robert, a man pondering the implication of the tapes, and his granddaughter Kate. Every year the family gather to celebrate Robert’s birthday, but we discover that this year neither Robert nor his granddaughter feel ready to face the party. Both are struggling with difficult memories from the past, and both have experienced something over the past year which will make this year’s party a difficult one. The individual stories of these two family members are woven together, as we gradually build up a picture of the family, and all of the challenges they face.
Over the course of the novel, the true extent of the events that have taken place are gradually revealed and we uncover why Robert is apprehensive about this event, and why the meeting of his daughter and granddaughter after some time may not be the happiest of reunions. There are some complex and difficult issues which are explored through this novel. It deals with the impact of major incidents and the lasting trauma that they can cause, and in the case of Kate we see how her health and wellbeing were affected in the aftermath of a significant incident. It also explores the ripple effect that this has on a family as they try to help one and other, when they too have wounds that are difficult to heal. I found this to be a compelling read and thought that it was wonderfully written, capturing the array of human emotions and the fragility of human life. The passages of writing I found particularly moving were those in which the characters looked at life, looked back at what they had lost, and wondered how to carry on living with the grief. This is a powerful story, and one which sensitively explores themes of bereavement and guilt, as we follow the characters on their journey to find peace, and to come to terms with what life has thrown at them.
Turning For Home is a well written and thought provoking novel about love, loss and family, and how we recover from emotional trauma. It was published on the 11th January 2018 by Doubleday, many thanks to Doubleday for providing a copy for review.
This review was written as part of the Turning For Home blog tour. You can check out the other stops on the tour on the dates and blogs below!