This is the 30th title from Sheila O’Flanagan, well-known, bestselling author of heartwarming stories that have, to date, sold over 9 million copies worldwide.
This story revolves around Eden, a young woman who tragically lost her husband Andy, a firefighter, 5 years previously. Newly pregnant at the time, she hadn’t even had the opportunity to tell him the good news yet. Having lost her own parents as a child, and not having a close relationship with the aunt and uncle who brought her up, Andy’s family, the Farrellys have stepped up and been there for Eden and her daughter Lila every step of the way, becoming her family and support structure.
But Eden is not the shy, weak wallflower that her mother-in-law Valerie and sister-in-law Michelle would prefer her to be. She has created a life for herself and Lila in the home that she and Andy shared. She’s got a job she loves as a carer, a hobby as a calligrapher, which is fast proving to be quite lucrative. She really does appreciate the help she gets from Valerie who looks after Lila while she works, but it does concern her that she needs to rely on her so much.
And then, out of the blue, she meets Rafe McConnell. The very same Rafe who was her closest childhood friend! So close in fact, that when her parents died and she was about to leave to go and live with her aunt and uncle, he had begged his parents to let Eden come and live with them. It hadn’t crossed Eden’s mind to try and meet someone new, but this isn’t really ‘new’. And Rafe has also been through his own tragedy. He’s just returned from America, having lost his wife, with his young daughter Poppy in tow.
But Eden could never anticipate the vehement hostility she receives, first from Michelle, who realizes that the ‘friend’ that Eden has been spending time with is not female, and then from Valerie who seems to believe that the family’s emotional support for Eden and Lila comes with a price tag: eternal gratitude and obligation.
The book is character driven, and what a wonderful cast of colourful characters Sheila O’Flanagan has created! I simply adored the elderly Elizabeth who Eden takes care of. Full of sass, despite her age and ailments, she’s Rafe’s neighbour’s. I also loved the banter on their street WhatsApp group … so much speculation among the ladies about their handsome, eligible new man on the block! It was hilarious, but so very genuine.
The Farrellys were another story altogether! I felt inclined toward violence at their somewhat irrational behaviour and unreasonable expectations of Eden. The conniving manipulation measures that were used angered me immensely! Yes, I realize these were mainly done from a place of pain and I know they convinced themselves (and Eden) that they only had her best interests at heart, but the level of self-absorbtion and selfishness this all amounted to just made me so mad!
This is ultimately a story about grief and loss and about how we find ourselves and put ourselves back together after having been through the worst that life has to offer. It’s about learning to live again and about deciding what to carry into the next stage of our life and what to leave behind. It’s about the different ways we can love people and about how it’s possible to love after loss. It’s a gentle, thoroughly enjoyable book.
Many thanks to Random Things Tours for this blog tour. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about “What Eden Did Next”.