Published: 20 January 2020 20 January 2020

Coming Home to Winter Island

Coming Home to Winter Island is told entirely from the perspective of the main character, in the present tense, which is a format I’m not fond of as it can be a bit limiting. Ruby is a singer who is trying to break into the music business. Just before an important gig she loses her voice, and all her carefully laid plans have to be put on indefinite hold. I found this book very hard to get into, could not warm to Ruby to begin with, and found the constant repetition of her thoughts about getting her voice back, and then everything would be hunky-dory, a bit annoying. She comes across as naïve and self-obsessed, especially regarding her relationship with Joe; it was obvious from the start what his true colours were.

Just as she is heading off to a retreat in Tenerife to rest her voice, she gets a call regarding her grandfather, Hector, who she has never met. Thinking she can make a quick detour to Winter Island (Geamhradh), then carry on to Tenerife, Ruby heads north. Gradually, the island works its spell on her and she gets caught up in the search for the gin recipe that will solve all their problems; with the current boom in small artisan gin distilleries, this is very topical and obviously well researched. The descriptions of the island are wonderful – the wildlife, the plants, the sense of community and the fresh sea breezes. Lachlan and Hector are much more likeable and believable. Hector’s dementia is treated sympathetically, and the theme of using music to unlock memories could have played a bigger part in the story. Overall, an enjoyable read but it could have been so much better. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.