Learning to Speak American, Colette Dartford
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Well, for a debut novel this is simply incredible. It kept me hooked to the page right to the end. It’s packed full of emotion and so, so realistic.
To start with I felt so sorry for Duncan, he was trying so hard to help Lola with her depression since their young daughter died, but she was in a grey fog, drifting aimlessly, and not even trying. Then on a morning out while on holiday they come across a derelict property for sale. She’s enthused about it, it pulls to something in her and Duncan is so pleased he arranges to buy it. From there my opinions began to change, we leant more about them and see from the outside that each are dealing – or not dealing – in their own way. Duncan is buttoned up, refuses to talk about their daughter and throwing himself into getting Lola better. Hobbies, counselling, anything but letting her talk to him about her. Lola just wants to talk, not treat their daughter as if she didn’t exist, and over the two years since the accident they’ve drifted. I felt she was so cold to Duncan when he was trying so hard, I didn’t like her but as I knew more of her I saw another side. They’re still on holiday when the cottage purchase starts to bring her forward, and she responds to Duncan as she hasn’t in a long while. Their love life had fizzled out, Lola just wasn’t interested for so long and now it looks to be sparking alive again.
Duncan’s having work issues too though, but he doesn’t talk to Lola about them, and that harks back to his upbringing and the Stiff Upper Lip British way of men coping. He’s very traditional, he spends long hours at work, never really switches off, he deals with money and bills, and Lola runs the home and her livery yard, which he treats as a kind of hobby. They live outside London and he has a long journey into work each day, and often stays over when work ends late. Things get worse for him at work when he loses an important contract, and the stress pushes him further into actions he rationalises as OK.
Lola gets more and more involved in the new property and the people there. We can see slowly how what was supposed to bring them back together is having the opposite effect. I was really annoyed at Duncan, didn’t understand how he could reconcile his actions, how he could justify himself like that. Of course he’s doing what most people do, thinking up reasons to rationalise and excuse what we know isn’t right but what we want to do. He’s human not a saint! I felt for him even when I was angry at him. I felt for Lola finally coming out of her depression just as things as going so badly for Duncan and he’s keeping her in the dark about it all. He’s very old fashioned and the age difference between them leads him to treat her as if she’s a child in a way. If they’d just talked she could have helped…but then we wouldn’t have this fabulous story.
Its a story that could happen to anyone, and so full of emotion. I so felt for both of them, was desperate for things to change for the better, for them to be happy. The death of a child is something no parent should have to deal with. I loved Treetops, the people around and involved in it. They felt so real, were so warm and welcoming even when they’d had their own issues. There’s some shocks here, things come out that no-one expects, and its a wonderful read. I’m a true romantic at heart, I want happy endings for everyone and here I got it. I finished it feeling very satisfied at the way things worked out, but it wasn’t at all as I’d thought it would be when I began reading…
Stars: Five, an emotional journey and fabulous début book. .
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers