Blog Tour: 'The Life You Left' by Carmel Harrington
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.
I’m incredibly excited to be part of the blog tour for Carmel Harrington’s new release ‘The Life You Left.’ The e-book version of the novel was released on the 19th of June 2014, followed by the paperback version on the 3rd of July. ‘The Life You Left’ is Carmel’s second novel, published by Harper Impulse, after her debut ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ became a big success. I remember many bloggers and book lovers talking about this book, describing it as incredibly touching and amazing. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ myself, which is why I was so excited when I was contacted about reviewing ‘The Life You Left’; my chance to check out Carmel's writing!
Sarah Lawler leads a normal life with her husband Paul, their three children Tommie, Katie and Ella, and her part-time job. However, everything changes completely when one morning when Sarah finds a note from Paul, stating he has gone away and that she shouldn’t worry about him; no further explanation. Suddenly Sarah has to take care of everything alone: the children, the household, the mortgage, and she has no idea how to cope with it all by herself. Unexpectedly, her childhood friend Edward comes back into her life and he’s a big support to her. At the same time, though, Edward also brings another issue into Sarah’s life, mainly because she is the only one that can actually see him...
After having finished my first and certainly not last Carmel Harrington novel, I’m glad to say I understand and agree with all the other positive and glowing reviews about her work. ‘The Life You Left’ managed to grip me from its first few sentences until the last final stop, and in between it took me from laughter to anger to tears and back to a smile on my face. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but the plotline is fascinating and has many different aspects to it that made it extremely captivating. There’s a mystery that needs to be solved, there’s a spiritual/paranormal aspect to the story, and next to that there’s Sarah (a strong and admirable leading lady) who is dealing with her marriage problems and a great mix of secondary characters, such as Sarah’s lovely twin brother James and her mother-in-law Rita, who also have their own issues.
While I was reading the book, I constantly found myself asking new questions and wanting the answers to them, which resulted in me not wanting to stop reading. This also wasn’t necessary, because Carmel Harrington’s writing flows so easily and is a true pleasure to read. This is a book that’s suitable for any day, any time, and any place, and a book that deals with various topics all of us can relate to or at least be interested in such as family, love, friendship, and following your instincts. ‘The Life You Left’ is an incredibly warm, touching and real read; a beautifully written book that is definitely worth a read.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Author Interview with Carmel Harrington
I'm so honoured to have the lovely Carmel Harrington on the blog today to tell all of us something more about her new novel 'The Life You Left', her future plans and her own favourite books!
Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘The Life You Left’?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog and for reading The Life You Left. I think the best way to summarise it, is that three catastrophic events happen in quick succession that change my heroines life forevermore.
First, Sarah’s husband of ten years, Paul, disappears. Second, a body is found brutally murdered on Sarah’s local beach. Third, a childhood friend of Sarah’s returns into her life, but Edward is no ordinary friend. He is an angel.
It’s an emotive story, with strong themes, with mystery, suspense, love and a sprinkling of magic thrown in!
Is the book in any way based on personal experiences or is it completely fiction? If so, how did you come up with this idea?
Thankfully, the story is completely fictional, I say thankfully, because I’m relieved I don’t know any murderers! lol….
I did imagine the whole story of a young woman murdered and found on a beach, following a walk early one morning on our local beach. It was a bit spooky down there, as the wind was making strange sounds and my imagination took off from that!
The idea of having a guardian angel takes on an important role in the novel. Why did you decide to write about this?
I became interested in a woman who could see angels, following an interaction I had with someone a few years back, who told me that she could see my guardian angel. I was sceptical and my first thought in response to her words, was one of ‘what does she want from me?’ as opposed to accepting her words as just being genuine and full of kindness.
It made me think about what it must be like for someone if they DID really see angels and how hard it must be to be constantly met with skepticism and disbelief. Sarahs’ character grew from that and then the story just developed.
Can you tell us a bit more about the main protagonist, Sarah?
Sarah is a young mother of three children, married for ten years to Paul and she thinks that her future is all mapped out, until her husband disappears and everything begins to fall apart. She’s denied a huge part of herself for many years, been afraid to show the world her true self, for fear of being ridiculed and ostracised. She also doesn’t realise how strong she is and I think that is true of a lot of us. We think we can’t cope, but in reality we do much better than we give ourselves credit for.
She’s loving and loyal, but also has a wit, a sass about her that I like. She’s no pushover and can give as good as she gets.
One of my favourite lines of Sarah’s is something she says to Michelle.
‘Every time I’ve spoken to you, you’ve been deliberately rude and quite vile. I’m just wondering if this is your normal manner or do you save up all your nasty just for me?’
There’s a great cast of supporting characters in the novel as well. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
I love my supporting characters! Even in movies or tv shows, it’s often the supporting actor or actress that I tend to lean towards. Like in The Walking Dead (I’m obsessed with that show!), I have to admit that I’m more than a little in crush land with Daryl!
I loved writing James, he was fun to play around with, but you know what? Michelle, in all her nastiness I loved to write! Getting inside her head and trying to work out what made her tick and made her so nasty was great!
Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans? Are you perhaps already working on a next novel?
I am currently writing a sequel to Beyond Grace’s Rainbow. It’s a lot of fun to pick up where the story ended and see what happens next for the gang. The story focuses heavily on Abby as I always felt that there were a lot of unanswered questions about her that needed to be dealt with!
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I always tell my writers in the Creative Writing class I teach, that you must read to be a writer. By reading you learn and you are inspired.
What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer. Really different and utterly compelling.
Which book could you not live without?
Pride and Prejudice right this minute, because I’m in a Lizzie Bennet frame of mind!
And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘The Life You Left’ in just three words, which words would you pick?