Review of The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

Published: 19th June 2014
Publisher: Harper Impulse


It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella’s feeds. There was no way of knowing that her husband, Paul, would leave for work that morning and simply not come home.

Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and, unable to answer her children’s questions about where their Daddy is, Sarah is getting desperate. But it turns out she isn’t quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend, Edward, comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she’s finally been thrown a life line.

There’s just one problem with Edward: Sarah is the only person who can see him.


Thank you very much to Harper Impulse for sending me an early review copy. Carmel Harrington is one of my favourite authors. Her debut novel Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was released in 2013 and ever since, I’ve had a wonderful relationship with her. Little did I know that her first book would make me a better person. Carmel is one of the sweetest people I have the pleasure of knowing and her second book is just as beautiful as the first…

The narrative opens when the main character Sarah receives an unusual email from her husband Paul. It automatically creates a lot of confusion and upset to both Sarah and the readers. Such enough, we’re thrown straight into the narrative and although we’re not given a lot of information straight away, it’s best if you let the narrative take you on the incredible journey which is about to unfold. When Sarah first mentioned Edward, I had no idea who he was. With Kindle review copies, it’s very hard to know what the blurb contains so I went into Carmel’s second book knowing absolutely nothing. I won’t spoil it for anyone else because when you realise who Edward is, you might be a little surprised. It’s a plot route which I thought Carmel would never write about but she makes it absolutely beautiful. Edward helps in more ways than one, but really, Sarah does all the work.

I absolutely loved the fact that Sarah’s dreams were included in the book. For those who are unaware, dream sequences are always shown in italics so it’s a lot easier to tell which is which from reality to sleep. As the plot progresses, so do the dreams. At times, we’re given a page or two in as much detail as dreams allow us to understand. I thought Carmel’s writing style of the unconscious was wonderful – she couldn’t have done any better.

Sarah’s two little children were fantastic additions to the plot, but at times, I wanted to hear from them. Carmel told us what they were doing and how they were feeling, rather than showing us what was happening. Katie was a very sweet, innocent little girl and she shone by her mother’s side all the way through the narrative – she was always in the right place at the right time. Tommy, on the other hand, was a delight to read about. His jokes were brilliant and despite not knowing the children’s ages, I thought they handled everything that happened in the narrative well. Some authors find it difficult to write from a child’s perspective so I can understand why we didn’t read from their point of view, but Carmel’s knowledge of how they think and what they can/can’t handle was spot on.

As the narrative progresses, I found the genre to be more of a mystery than romance. Where was the romance? Let me tell you: it’s hidden very well and Carmel holds it off until the very end. The last few chapters were breathtaking and I found myself holding my breath. My eyes couldn’t read any faster. I wanted to know what was happening and where the plot would take us. Just like Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, I cried but not as much this time. Carmel truly knows how to pull on the heartstrings on the readers. Sarah is constantly surrounded by family and friends. It’s the love and passion which Carmel writes with that allows her books to be extremely captivating. It’s yet another book not to be missed.

Twitter: @happymrsh
Website: www.carmelharrington.com


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