Friday 24 April 2015

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there.
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.
During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.
Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman will be published by Ebury in hardback on 21 May 2015, the paperback release is 22 October 2015.  This is the author's twelfth novel, I reviewed her previous books; The Memory Book and Dearest Rose (now re-published as The Runaway Wife) here on Random Things.

Reading real books, and writing real letters; these are two things that I have spent my life doing. Some days I am glad that I am older, and that I probably won't be around when real books and actual letters that arrive in the post disappear altogether. Rowan Coleman has captured, within this story, the emotions that are instilled when a hand-written letter is received, the joy of receiving, the recognition of the time and effort spent on the writing and the ability to keep the letter for ever, and to cherish it when the sender may no longer be around.

The story is told in a relatively simple way, with multiple viewpoints. We are introduced to patients in the Marie Francis hospice, and to Stella, the nurse who cares for them during the long, lonely nights. Stella is the letter writer, or the enabler. The patients can share their secrets, their sorrows, their advice and their love, in their own words, Stella will write the letter and promises to post them when the sender has died.

Stella herself has lots to deal with. She loves her husband Vincent so much, she looks at him and sees the funny, strong, brave soldier that she married. Vincent looks at himself and sees a man who is no longer complete, he looks at himself and feels guilt and pain that he doesn't know how to share. He looks at Stella and wonders why she stays.

The reader also gets to know Hugh, he doesn't seem to be connected to the story, but Rowan Coleman gradually and expertly interweaves his narrative with Stella's, so creating a turning-point in Stella's life, and affecting Hugh and his mother profoundly too.

Dying, death, end of life, passing away; whatever you choose to call it, it will come to us all. It may be quick and unexpected, or drawn out and painful. It may happen too early, or tragically; whatever happens, the effect of death on everyone involved is enormous, and possibly one of the most difficult things that people have to deal with. We Are All Made of Stars is a sensitive look at the subject of dying. Rowan Coleman writes with tenderness and care, and some humour. Her characters are an eclectic bunch and painfully real, the reader will grow to love each and every one of them, The author treats the subject matter with respect and dignity, whilst still managing to captivate the reader during a story that is so rewarding.

Told in her distinctive style; We Are All Made of Stars is another triumph from Rowan Coleman. Existing fans will adore it, and readers who are new to her work will be spellbound.

I hope that readers will think about letter writing, even if they only sit down and write one letter. It could make so much of a difference to someone. It's almost like posting a big hug through somebody's letter box.

My thanks to Amelia from Ebury who sent my copy for review.

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing...

For more information, visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @rowancoleman

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