Title: The House of Second Chances
Author: Esther Campion
Published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
Can a house heal heartache? From coastal Australia to the rugged beauty of Ireland, an enchanting novel of starting over, in the tradition of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney
Their grandmother’s stone cottage was always a welcome retreat in the childhood summers of Ellen and Aidan O’Shea. After a trip home from Australia, Ellen is keen to bring the neglected property back to its former glory and enlists the help of her dear friend and one of Ireland’s top interior designers, Colette Barry.
Aidan is already begrudging the work on the house he has avoided for nearly twenty years. The last thing the builder needs is an interior designer who seems to do nothing but complicate his life. With their own personal heartaches to overcome, will Aidan and Colette find the courage to give the house and themselves a second chance?
A quaint book that embraces you with its genuine warmth and open friendly tone, The House of Second Chances is the delightful second novel from Esther Campion. For her second offering, Campion takes her readers from the one of Australia’s most stunning coastal regions, to the rolling green hills of Ireland. This is a memorable journey of overcoming loss, welcoming love and embracing new chances.
The House of Second Chances asks us, can a house heal heartache? I’d like to think so. A once beautiful stone cottage in the West Cork region of Ireland is the central stage prop for The House of Second Chances. This old cottage was the home of the grandmother of Ellen and Aidan O’Shea. It holds plenty of memories for the two. Ellen is heading back to the cottage after a sojourn in Australia and she is keen on restoring the cottage to its former state. Helping Ellen along the way is a friend and much respected interior designer Colette. Meanwhile, Aidan is not keen at on all on the whole renovation process. He would much rather avoid the place. With tension soon arising between Aidan and Colette, the cottage becomes a site for both pain, angst, heartache, but also new opportunities.
I love nothing more than a good second chance story – whether it is about love, relationships, friendships or life in general. The House of Second Chances is an example of a very agreeable second chance love and life lit based story. It is a continuation of sorts from Esther Campion’s debut 2018 novel, Leaving Ocean Road. However, with plenty of details filled in for new readers, The House of Second Chances can be read as a complete standalone to the previous novel penned by Campion. For me personally, The House of Second Chances provided me with the chance to return to the people and the familiar writing of Esther Campion
I just adore the cover design of The House of Second Chances. The welcoming and picturesque garden that features on the front has such an embracing feel. The steps leading into the sun provides a warm tone to the book that I just couldn’t resist! The attractive cover definitely worked to draw me in to the pages of the novel and the unfolding story.
I really liked the way Esther Campion draws implicitly on her passion, love and understanding of two locales that she holds dear. This is expressed at every axis point of her novel. We travel effortlessly from coastal South Australia and its breathtaking natural beauty, to the pristine clear green hills of Ireland. I was with the characters every step of the way, breathing in the setting with them.
Characters are clearly Campion’s forte, she inhabits them so well. There are some returning characters for Campion to extend upon and she does this with finesse. Likewise, there are some new protagonists that add much to the fold. I enjoyed unpacking their stories, some were tinged with past hurts and pain, while others offered plenty of hope. I particularly enjoyed Aidan’s journey into overcoming his past obstacles, his wellbeing overhaul and eventually his connection to Colette.
There are plenty of resounding themes for the reader to sink their teeth into. The most significant or overarching theme is that of overhaul. This applies to the overhaul and renovation process of the stone cottage, which kick starts this story. Then there is the overhaul of the characters and their complicated lives in the story. I recently read another home renovation story but this one is the superior one. I appreciated the angle Campion took with the redesign process of the West Cork cottage.
With an unexpected thread thrown in on a missing child in the parting stages of the novel, it certainly added a surprising extra dose of intrigue to this emotional storyline. I did like how it all panned out in the end. Campion wraps her second novel up in a more than satisfactory fashion. I’m keen to see who and what she will introduce us to next!
A poignant book that reminds us that we do have the ability to make changes in our lives in order to become healthier, happier and more fulfilled people, The House of Second Chances is a highly relatable novel that will be appreciated by a broad audience.
The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $29.99
To learn more about the author of The House of Second Chances, Esther Campion, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The House of Second Chances is book #21 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge