Thursday 6 August 2020

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris @Anstey_Harris @simonschusterUK #WhereWeBelong #BookReview

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris was published by Simon and Schuster UK on 14 May 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This review was previously published in the Daily Express.

Cate Morris has been made redundant, she and her son Leo have to leave their home. There’s no more money, it’s been a struggle for the past four years, since her beloved husband Richard died.


Against her better judgement, and because she has no choice, Cate and Leo pack up their home and move to Hatters Museum of the Wide World, intending to stay for the summer only.


Although Hatters was Richard’s family home, Cate and Leo have never visited before. Cate knows that Richard and his grandfather were close once, but that there was a huge family fall-out and the two men didn’t speak again. Now both of them are gone, and Hatters is looked after by Araminta, a woman of indefinite age who has devoted her life to the place, and doesn’t seem very welcoming.


Hatters was the life work of Richard’s grandfather and is packed with interesting and unusual artefacts. However, money is tight and it’s clear that the Board of Trustees would like to sell everything and take the money.


Cate and Leo become heavily involved in trying to save Hatters, and as they become more invested, Araminta begins to show her kinder side, especially towards young Leo.


Long-kept family secrets are gradually uncovered and Cate begins to learn more about the man that she loved for so long and how and why the awful tragedy that befell her small family came about.


This original and atmospheric novel is perfectly crafted. The characters are tenderly created and the setting of Hatters is wonderfully described.


An enchanting story of families, secrets and lies with a exquisite love story running throughout.

Praise for Where We Belong

‘Last but no means least is the beautiful second book from Anstey Harris . . . a perfectly crafted novel: beautifully written, insightful and tender – it’s simply stunning’ -- Fionnuala Kearney

‘Such a beautifully written and engrossing novel. I felt I knew Cate and Leo as friends at the end of it. I will miss them’  -- Jacqueline Ward

'Magical. Moving. Mesmerising. Anstey Harris has done it again. A book as rare and exquisite as the objects in Hatters museum. Complex and compelling. Riddled with secrets and lies, the love story shines like a beacon in the darkness and gripped me utterly. I could not look away for a moment. Superb!' -- Kate Furnivall

‘This beautifully written novel is not only absorbing and original, it will challenge preconceptions in the very best way' -- Katie Fforde

'Utterly enchanting' -- Heidi Swain

'An incredibly moving and atmospheric novel, as beautiful and complex and curious as the museum in which it is set' -- Beth O'Leary

'Having adored Anstey Harris’s first novel, I started this one with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. It couldn’t possibly be as good as The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, but I hoped I would like it anyway. I was soon drawn in, as I knew I would be, by Anstey’s assured and elegant writing. Gradually, the little hooks drew me in further, and before I knew it, I was thoroughly immersed in this mesmerising story of love, loss and friendship, set against a fascinating and unusual backdrop which is very much part of the clever plot. I loved these characters, especially Leo and Araminta, and I was completely swept along by the wonderful storytelling. This is an emotional story, heartbreaking in places, but joyful and uplifting in others. And what a great ending!' -- Susan Elliot Wright

'Absorbing, powerful and lovely. This book swept me away and then brought me home' -- Milly Johnson

Anstey Harris is based by the seaside in south-east England where she lives with her violinmaker

husband and two dogs. She teaches creative writing in the community, local schools, and as an associate lecturer for Christchurch University in Canterbury.

Anstey writes about the things that make people tick, the things that bind us and the things that can rip us apart. In 2015, she won the H G Wells Short Story Prize for her story, Ruby. In novels, Anstey tries to celebrate uplifting ideas and prove that life is good and that happiness is available to everyone once we work out where to look (usually inside ourselves). Her short stories tend not to end quite so well...

Things that interest Anstey include her children and granddaughter, green issues and conservation, adoption and adoption reunion (she is an adopted child, born in an unmarried mothers' home in Liverpool in 1965), stepfamilies, dogs, and food. Always food. She would love to be on Masterchef but would never recover from the humiliation if she got sent home in the first round.

Twitter @Anstey_Harris

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