It’s lovely to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate Sarah Franklin’s How to Belong, please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
Firstly, I love the natural simplicity of the cover design for How to Belong. I love nature and the idea of a forest setting really appealed to me. I was not let down by Franklin; her writing is so vivid, the senses leap from the pages and the richness of the descriptive detail creates the perfect setting backdrop for a book of insightful observations of human behaviour, of challenges, disillusionment, trauma, hardships, defiance and illness.
I enjoyed the relationship between the two central, contrasting women (Jo and Tessa) and the sense of realism to the writing of their characters. Their friendship becomes a narrative drive for the reader and a revelation for the characters when building their futures. All this is explored in a slow paced, explorative way with a strong personal spirit behind the writing.
A story of community, of human nature and the depth of our interactions: of difference and connections. I thought this was a beautifully written book; a story of women, of place and the communities that frame them.
A sensitively and beautifully written story that I’d very happily recommend for readers looking for a reflective novel with both strength and hope at its heart.