Summer Reading Club #2

Review #2: Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

Published 1995    ~    ISBN #0-31295812-9    ~    977 pages

Rosamunde Pilcher, if you don’t already know, writes deeply romantic novels and novellas. They are generally set in Great Britain, starting sometime between World War II and the present. They all feature lots of gorgeous, sweeping visual descriptions, and they make excellent use of old-fashioned/British descriptions like “in some style”. They do NOT include any graphic sex. These are novels you could comfortably loan to your grandmother.

Coming Home is my favorite of her long-form novels, which include The Shell Seekers and September. It is set just before, during and just after World War II. The main character is Judith Dunbar, a girl born in Colombo (Ceylon) to British parents. The story begins when she is fourteen; shortly before she says goodbye to her mother and sister and home of four years. Her mother and sister, you see, are heading back east to live with dear old Dad, and Judith is off to boarding school. One event follows another in pretty short order, and before you know it, she’s finishing school. Soon after, the war begins.

The book is divided into two main parts, which I suppose could be best described as ‘childhood’ and ‘adult’, although the ‘home’ in Coming Home also changes between the two sections. The novel is interspersed with letters, usually from Judith to her absent parents, but sometimes the sender and reader change to other characters. The book is written in third-person limited omniscient, with the omniscience generally directed toward Judith, but again this does shift from time to time.

The one thing that really bothers me about this book is the same thing that bothers me about all of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books: the endings are too neat. No loose ends. All of the characters pair off. Nearly everyone has a happy ending. It’s all very rosy, but, well, a little too rosy, if you know what I mean. Sometimes happy endings are unrealistic, no matter how much you want them.

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