Book of the Week

The Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor. Photo: PA Photo/Sphere

The Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor. Photo: PA Photo/Sphere

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The Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor.

The Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells marks the triumphant return of Virginia Macgregor, author of What Milo Saw. And in this, her second offering, Macgregor affirms her place at the forefront of contemporary fiction, with a novel so engaging and powerful you’ll want to read it in one gluttonous sitting. But despite its pull, this is a novel that should be cherished and savoured, for its ending will come all too soon and it’s a wrench to be parted from the wonderful family at the heart of this story.

Indeed, Macgregor shapes some of the most delightful and endearing characters you’ll read, and a family that, whilst far from perfect, is a poignant reminder of the beautiful and enduring bonds, both biological and non-biological, that exist between humans in this most fundamental of social units.

Macgregor’s exploration of family begins when a mother, Norah Wells, walks out on her husband Adam, their eight-year-old daughter Ella, baby Willa and dog Louis, without so much as a by your leave, and only the briefest of notes to dissuade him from looking for her.

Six years on, Norah finally returns to the family she left behind, but her homecoming is far from a rapturous one, not least because there is now a new mother who has taken her place. And whilst Norah’s reappearance confuses the whole family dynamic, there are a few more surprises in store that will change it yet further, but whether it can survive those changes and stay together will be firmly put to the test.

Is it too early to say this is one of the books of 2016? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s definitely not too early to say this is a very special book and one to watch this year.