Sunday 13 January 2013

The Heart Whisperer by Ella Griffin

Claire Dillon still lives in the shadow of the past. On her thirty-third birthday, she gives herself a present. One year to change her future.
Claire Dillon's mother had everything to live for. A husband, two children, a successful medical practice. Then, at thirty-three, she died in a tragic accident. And it was Claire's fault.
Now Claire is the same age. A floundering actress with a broken heart, a collection of draft snakes, and a talent for self-sabotage. She is frittering her life away with the help of her oldest friend, the gorgeous ex-rock star, Ray Devine.
On her 33rd birthday she gives herself one last year to be more like her mother. But you should be careful what you wish for . . .
Her estranged brother Nick is back from America and keeping his distance from his clingy sister and his pathetic father while he reinvents himself as a daytime TV relationship guru. But Dublin is full of memories and Nick is already dreaming of escape. While his wife Kelly, has dreams of her own. Ones she isn't telling him about.
What will happen when another accident throws the dysfunctional Dillons together? And the secrets they have kept from themselves and one another finally begin to emerge?

Way way back in March 2010, around the time that I started this blog, I reviewed Ella Griffin's debut novel Postcards From The Heart - you can read what I thought of it here.  I was really impressed by Ella's writing, she managed to combine humour with high emotion and a little bit of heartbreak.  At last, almost two years later her second novel is about to be published.   It will be available in hardback on 31 January 2013 and is published by Orion.

The Heart Whisperer, like Postcards From The Heart is a comedy with a bittersweet edge.  Ella Griffin has an amazing ability to move from comedy to heart-wrenching emotion at the turn of a page.

Claire Dillon is an actress, although not a very successful one.  She is thirty-three with no romance in her life, her car is on it's last legs, her flat is owned and subsidised by her best friend (ex Rock Star Ray Devine), and it's really time that she did something about her life.   Claire's mother died aged 33, on Claire's seventh birthday.  Her mother had it all, two beautiful children, a loving husband and a career as a GP.  Claire is determined that by the time her next birthday arrives, she too, will have life sorted.

Ella Griffin has created a cast of characters who are larger than life, and wonderfully realistic.  A family, who on the face of it, appear to be happy and settled.   Claire the actress, her brother Nick the relationship guru and his shiny, happy American wife Kelly.  Their father is a little odd, eating only omelettes and Jaffa Cakes, but he's happy in his own way.   Claire's best friend Ray Devine is her rock, once a very successful rock star, he now lives on the royalties from his most famous song and makes sure that Claire is well cared for.
Possibly the best, most lovable character of the story is the wonderful Dog!   Claire's Dad rescued the aged mongrel many years ago, after a group of louts tied him to a shopping trolley and let him loose.  Known as 'Dog' ever since, he is a old, wiry haired, eat and chew anything sort of guy - obsessed with the TV News programme and able to win over the heart of the most serious dog-hater.

I have only praise for Ella Griffin's writing and I loved The Heart Whisperer as much as her first novel.  I laughed and I cried as Claire discovered the secrets that had been kept from her over the years.  I cheered when she found happiness and I hissed when she was betrayed - I rooted for her on every page.

Ella Griffin
Claire's friend Ray and her brother Nick feature heavily in the story, and their accompanying stories blend well with Claire's.  There are a lot of characters to keep up with at times, but each one adds something extra to the story, adding a different perspective and often a touch of humour.

This is a smart and uplifting story cleverly written with humour and emotion.  It is modern and will appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed authors such as Marian Keyes and Milly Johnson.

My thanks to Gaby from Orion Books and Ella Griffin, the author, for arranging an advance copy for me to read.

Ella Griffin has a Twitter page, you can follow her here

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