A laid-back read that would have worked better if the focus was on one protagonist.
The Long Road Home is a continuation of Fiona McCallum’s recent bestselling novel A Life of Her Own but it can also be read as a stand-alone novel. As I have not read A Life of Her Own, I will review it as a stand-alone title.
Part one of the novel follows Alice Hamilton as she settles into her new life in Ballarat, breaking free from her narcissistic mother and studying to become a lawyer. Part two focuses on Rick Peterson, Alice’s ex-husband as he deals with the fallout of a life-shattering family secret coming to light.
The decision to split the novel into two parts confusing and unnecessary. It would have made more sense to release the stories in two stand-alone books. It would have allowed more time for Ricks story to become a stronger and more engaging read while allowing for a more genuine conclusion to Alice’s story.
Rick finds out a huge factor of his life has been a lie and everyone who can provide answers has passed, yet he seems to find answers to all his questions in less than a month. Even more unbelievably, he was essentially given the information when he was eighteen but never questioned it! Instead, he waits until the truth is unravelled by his sisters when he is thirty-something and claims he’s been lied to by everyone he’s ever known. Rick’s story is dull and frustrating, considering what he was going through.
It would have been more enjoyable had the story continued to follow Alice and her personal growth to a point where she stopped apologising for everything and explored her independence in her first year living alone.
McCallam’s strength is her ability to capture the pressures of life as a son in a farming family. Also applaudable is her ability to tackle toxic masculinity in her characters’ relationships and for encouraging men to open up to mates about how they’re feeling.
Regardless of this story’s faults, those who enjoy laid back reads with happily-ever-after endings should enjoy this book.
Reviewed by Jessica Incoll
Distributed by: HarperCollins Australia
Released: March 2020