Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blog Tour The Home by Karen Osman Review + Guest Blog Post (Thriller, 9/10E)

Check out the other tour stops!

4th September 2018, Aria Fiction, 320 pages, Paperback and Ebook, Review copy

Summary from Aria Fiction
Angela was just a baby when her mum left her for the last time, and a children’s home is no place to grow up. The home’s manager Ray takes the girls off to his ‘den’ in the garden and the littlies come back crying, and Ray’s wife Kath has special wooden spoons which she saves for beating any of the children who dare to misbehave. 

So, when wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape. 

But the scars of her childhood remain, and when Angela’s search for her birth mother Evelyn is successful, their reunion is no fairy tale. Soon strange and sinister events start to unfold, and Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return…

Nayu's thoughts 
I knew this would be a bit of a tough read when I agreed to review it - I mean, just read the summary. It gave me the creeps but I simply had to find out what happened to Angela, her birth mother, and her adoptive mother. That in itself was quite a journey. 

I liked how the book switched point of views and including some childhood diary entries of what life was like in the home. It was hard to read because sadly all of that has happened in the past, and unfortunately may still exist somewhere in the world. Abuse, however repressed it is, is always a part of the person it happens to. Some manage to make a decent life, others get caught up in the maelstrom of emotions and end up doing things. I'm not saying which category Angela fits in! You'll need to read the book to find that out. Using the diary as a way to talk about the abuse was a good way to bring up what happened without having to go into the horrifying details which some books do. Note I hadn't realised maelstrom was used in Karen't first book synopsis - I came up with it for this review on my own.

I read the book before reading the guest post Karen kindly wrote for my stop on the tour, and honestly I hadn't realised why the book was set in the 1980s. I was a very young child then so I didn't know what the workplace was like, and I felt sorry that Angela had to work so hard. Her drive to do well is evident on almost every page. Perhaps that's why discovering her birth mother is a bit emotional for her - she can mostly control what she does at work, but she has no control over a woman she's only starting to get to know. 

Her birth mother had a life which some may see as defining young mothers who give their children up for adoption, but I was proud that while she had done unsavoury activities in the past, she was trying and mostly succeeding to make what she could of her circumstances. I wanted her to have a happy ever after, to be able to have a good relationship with Angela. Again you'll have to read the book to find out if that happens! 

Initially I admired Angela's adoptive parents. Rosemary the mother had a tough time because she adopted Angela as an older child, not a baby which she desperately wanted. Her husband James doted on Angela and definitely spoilt her, which caused some uncomfortable feelings in  Rosemary - jealousy isn't a positive emotion, and where it took Rosemary was a major surprise, as were the several other major plot twists. I had accurately guessed one part of the story, although I hadn't thought any more of it making the rest of the twists very exciting. 

The only reason this isn't a perfect grade is that I'd wanted a bit more time spent on the events at the end of the book - so I now want a sequel! I wanted more time spent on the trouble Angela finds herself in, and the consequences of Rosemary's decisions. This is a bit of a tricky review to write because I want to chat about plot specifics, but that would ruin what is a pretty brilliant thriller. It's a book I'll be rereading just so I can try and see the hints which much have been there from the start, but I didn't see them because I didn't know the full story.

Suggested read 
Do check out Karen's first novel which I've reviewed on this blog The Good Mother by Karen Osman (Crime, Thriller, 10E/10E)

The Creative Themes Behind The Home by Karen Osman 
Meet Karen!

 Karen Osman talks about her inspiration behind her second novel, The Home

While every book needs the big idea, that thread that can be picked out until a whole story unravels, I was inspired by multiple themes when writing The Home. A psychological thriller, my second novel is about a young woman called Angela who was abandoned when she was just a few days old to a children’s home in London. When wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape. However, the scars of childhood remain and when Angela’s search for her birth mother Evelyn is successful, their reunion brings its own problems. Set in the 1970s and ‘80s, the book is about motherhood, raising children, marriage, deceit, violence, and betrayal. Here’s a look at how some of these themes inspired my writing process.  

Children’s Homes

There was a series of scandals in the UK concerning children’s home before the Children Act of 1989. I started doing some research about the reported events in children’s homes during the ‘60s and ‘70s, much of which only came to light many years later. It’s incredibly disturbing that such events could have happened in places which are supposed to protect children and I struggled to understand how such horrifying things could happen.


It’s strange that a joyful event such as the arrival of children could reveal such dark thoughts. But it’s true. Like many new mothers, during the day, I used to be in a state of constant vigilance as I watched over my new-born, while at night I had half-baked nightmares about the unspeakable. On the flip side, I also remember the profound sense of joy and happiness as I held my son and the primal urge to protect was overwhelming. While it’s been a few years now, I still remember the double-edged maelstrom of emotion of those new-born days and it’s been a powerful influence in my writing for both The Home and my first novel, The Good Mother.  

Women in the Workplace

The main character in The Home, Angela, is ambitious and career driven and the 1980s were an interesting time for such women. On the one hand, Margaret Thatcher was a powerful example of what could be achieved, but on the other hand, sexism was very much present. And while it continues to be a problem today, back then, there wasn’t the same sort of awareness. During the research process for The Home, I interviewed many women who were working during this decade in London and I have tried to reflect some of their experiences in The Home.

The Home is available for pre-order and will be published on 4th September. I would love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to get in touch!

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