Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Lizzie wants nothing more than to start over and put the past behind her. So when she is offered the chance to live and work at Rowan Hill, a beautiful country estate and bustling community of artists, it feels like a dream come true.
But soon after her arrival a series of accidents and misunderstandings begins to threaten the happiness and livelihoods of everyone at Rowan Hill. And when suspicion quickly falls on Lizzie, she discovers that the past is not so easily forgotten.
To keep the life she has just begun to build, Lizzie will have to race to uncover the truth before there are disastrous repercussions for everyone involved. In this heartwarming story of friendship, loss and love, the stakes are high but so are the rewards. If Lizzie can find a way to stay true to herself, she might have a chance at something she has always wanted: a place to call home.
Since I have discovered the wonderful writing of Emma Davies she has become one of my go to authors as I know I will always be guaranteed a brilliant, engaging read full of characters attempting to find happiness on both a personal and professional level whilst helping others out along the way. Turn Towards the Sun is the second full length novel from Emma and once again takes us back to the beautiful setting of Rowan Hill which was featured in Letting in Light. Rowan Hill is fast becoming a community of people all working individually with their little business yet coming together as one to make Rowan Hill the special place it is which the reader can sense so well throughout the book.
I was delighted to see we had another full length story from Emma as we eagerly await the next installments in her Tales from Appleyard series, Gooseberry Fool and Blackberry Way, as when the stories are this good you really don't like to be left waiting. This new book can be read as a stand alone as its main focus is on a different character from those we have met previously at Rowan Hill. Although the characters we grew to love and followed so closely make a welcome return and it was almost like we had just taken a little break from them for a few months yet it just like catching up with old friends after a brief absence. It felt like the reader was welcomed with open arms to read and enjoy the continuation of the story. I would suggest if you do love this story as much as I did then go back and read Letting in Light if only to enhance your reading experience and to bring greater understanding as to how certain characters reached the place they are now at and to understand their mindset and reasons for certain actions or opinions. Saying that you wouldn't miss out if you didn't but I know I would have regretted it if I hadn't read the first book.
From the start it felt like all the setting up and introduction of the main characters had been established in the first book and the author felt more ready and willing to introduce new characters and develop a major new storyline yet the old characters still featured and mixed well with the new and there were some aspects to their plots which had continual development throughout this book. Lizzie is the new female character we turn our attention to this time, she arrives fresh off the bus to Rowan Hill for an interview to work with Ellie and the team and help out where ever needed. Lizzie seems quite a closed book and I think she was like this for the majority of the story. It was evident she was hiding something and she believed if it came out into the open people would make rash judgements of her regardless of the good work she may have had already done. She wanted people to take her for what she was and how she acted now and not uncover her past which would taint the present.
Ellie likes Lizzie instantly and takes a chance and offers her the job with some on site accommodation as she will need all the help she can get over the next few months especially as her fiancée Will will be away working on a stained glass commission. So Ellie is left to run the tea rooms and keep a general eye on the Rowan Hill community all while organising her summer wedding. At times I think Lizzie came across as being that bit too closed off and slightly dim, she was so socially awkward and inappropriate at times. I don't mean that in the worst way but there were so many opportunities for her to speak the truth or offer her viewpoint and she never did and quite often she took things up so wrong where as someone else would have understood what was going on. Overall she lacked total faith and confidence in her abilities and really didn't give herself enough credit for what she was truly capable of. I could almost compare her to a butterfly. She came to Rowan Hill encased within a cocoon of hurt and lack of belief and over the time she spent with Ellie and co she went through a transformation with numerous ups and downs, the only question the reader kept asking was would she emerge out the other side a beautiful butterfly or would things get her down to much that she reverts back to past coping mechanisms?
Emma Davies really builds up a sense of the community feeling that Will was trying to establish at Rowan Hill and though he is absent for quite a lot of this book the remaining characters more than make up for this. This time I found some of the characters quite frustrating and Ellie was one of them. On one hand she seemed to get on with her job in the tea rooms and do her best for Lizzie and the others but on the other she appeared to be in some sort of melancholy over Will's absence and doubts regarding the wedding more like wedding nerves crept in. I wanted to shake her so many times and just say get over it. You're with the man of your dreams, you have a fantastic set up at Rowan Hill and yet you are questioning things. Why couldn't she see exactly what was in front of her eyes and I suppose I mean that in more ways than one as events start to take a slightly sinister turn. I did begin to slightly wonder when the plot as outlined in the blurb would come into play as it had mentioned a series of accidents and misunderstandings threaten the happiness of everyone at Rowan Hill but Emma Davies skilfully weaved this into the overall story. I loved the mystery element as incidents occurred that you knew were not the fault of Lizzie even though being the newbie and being so secretive suspicion instantly fell on her yet I didn't know who the culprit actually was. Well for quite some time I didn't but then it clicked with me but the reasons behind all the incidents I wouldn't have ever thought of and it was quite ingenious and meant for me that aspect of the storyline was extremely well done and had pulled the wool over my eyes.
I felt Turn Towards the Sun had even more depth than the first book which I had loved. There was such a great mix of feelings inspired by all the characters and events and the rising mystery and tension within the small setting was crafted to perfection. My earlier misgivings regarding Ellie completely disappeared as I felt she began to get her act together and the fog she seemed to have surrounded herself began to dissolve and the character I had loved in Letting in Light made a welcome return. I loved Turn Towards the Sun just as much as Letting in Light in fact even more so. I devoured it in a few hours and literally couldn't put the Kindle down so caught up was I in the story and the brilliant characters and setting Emma Davies has created.
Emma Davies for me is fast becoming one of those authors whose books you would by no questions asked as to whether you like the cover (which is gorgeous by the way) or whether the blurb appeals? I'd just rush out and buy her books as soon as publication day arrives. I really want another visit to Rowan Hill and I do hope that the author feels this could be possible. In the meantime I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of Gooseberry Fool with not long to wait until the 16th of February.
Many thanks to Lake Union publishing via NetGalley for my copy of Turn Towards the Sun to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.