Tuesday 5 April 2022

Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman @clareswatman #BeforeWeGrowOld @BoldwoodBooks #BookReview


When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.

Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman was published on 19 January 2022 by Boldwood Books. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

I've read all of Clare Swatman's previous novels and enjoyed them. This one is her best yet, it brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion. It's a story that is filled with joy, and heartbreak and full of love. 

Fran and Will were the best of friends as children. Their friendship developed into an all-consuming love and they looked forward to a bright future together. They loved each other so much, never imagining that they would not spend the rest of their life together. 

Twenty five years later, Fran is a single mother and Will lives thousands of miles away. Fran was devastated when Will left, out of the blue. He didn't even say goodbye in person, just wrote a letter and left. 

Will is back. A chance meeting in a local cafe brings so many emotions to the fore. Fran is still angry, she still nurses her broken heart, she has never forgotten the hurt that Will caused. Will is sorry, he tries to explain the circumstances behind his disappearance, but it's so hard for Fran. Can she give up her heart again?

As a woman reading this, I too was angry with Will. I hoped that Fran would tell him to do one, and make him suffer as much as she has. However, as the story unfolds, we come to realise that Will is hurting too. It wasn't his decision to move to the other side of the world, and he was too emotionally immature to be able to tell Fran in person. I had my suspicions about why Will had returned and these were correct, and once the reader realises just why Will has come home, they will back him, and Fran, all of the way. 

Clare Swatman really pulls on the heartstrings in this story, it could be overly sentimental, it could be too much, but her use of humour interwoven with tragedy is brilliantly done and makes this story so much more than a tale of sadness and sorrow. Yes, I shed a tear, and to be honest, that's probably because of my own grief at the time. My own personal circumstances really impacted on how this story affected me. It touched me so much. 

With characters that the reader will come to love and a plot that is filled with revelations and lots of new experiences, this is a book that I really treasured.

Clare Swatman is an author and journalist. She has had four novels published, with her most recent, Before We Grow Old, becoming an instant bestseller. She has also spent 20 years writing for women's magazines in the UK.

Her next novel, How To Save a Life, is a love story with a difference, spanning more than twenty years. It will be released on 8 June 2022.

Clare lives in Hertfordshire in the UK with her husband and two boys. Even the cat is male, which means she's destined to be outnumbered forever.

You can find out more about her books at www.clareswatmanauthor.com, or follow her on Facebook at Clare Swatman Author, Insta @clareswatmanauthor, and twitter, where she's @clareswatman

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