Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, Stella Carey leaves the house every evening.
During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain - promising to post them after their deaths.
Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time....
©2015 Rowan Coleman (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd
"What a gorgeous book this is - it gripped me and wouldn't let me go. So engaging, so beautifully written - I loved every single thing about it." (Jill Mansell)
"We Are All Made of Stars is simply wonderful. Profoundly moving and ultimately hopeful, this story - like its deftly drawn characters - refuses to let you forget it." (Miranda Dickinson)
There was a lot going on in this book, and it takes a while for it to become apparent where the connections are. This makes the whole thing feel a bit disjointed in parts.
The story centres around a nurse working nights in a hospice....or possibly a young CF patient who goes there for respite care. Not sure.... You can get the gist of it from reading the publisher's blurb. Anyway, in parts, it feels like a lot of random short stories, but it does all make sense in the end. I gave the story 4 stars as it's an interesting take on relationships, and a difficult set of issues to tackle (terminal illness / disability caused by war / the difficulties of being a single parent / dealing with cystic fibrosis as a young adult / family secrets....) not really selling it am I??
So to try and be brief. The letters written for the dying will break your heart - but you probably knew they would. Ben the boyfriend had a really annoying voice, and the relationship between him and his best friend with cystic fibrosis was irritating. (no idea why - maybe because of the voices). The wife / soldier story was too drawn out. The letter writing was a bit random and the friendship between the neighbours and the little boy seemed a bit unlikely. It was ok....but not a page turner. And I feel mean for saying that because most of their problems weren't of their own doing. Probably better to read than listen.
I've never read anything by Rowan Coleman before, I guess I had her down as a bit of a Chick-Lit author, but We Are All Made of Stars seemed to be getting a lot of attention so I decided to listen to the audiobook from Audible. Before I go any further I must say that this was an excellent narration from Avita Jay and Ben Allen and I particularly liked the voice of Ben, from Avita.
There are four relationships under the microscope here, Stella, the central character and her Afghanistan Vet husband, Vincent; Hope, a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer, recouperating from a severe infection, and her friend Ben; Hugh and Sarah, the girl who moves in next door (and his cat, Jake, who contrives to visit all the characters in the book); and Gladys who joins the cast later on but links back to Hugh.
Stella works in a hospice for terminal and recouperating patients and has become known amongst them a writer of last letters to loved ones. This becomes the theme that holds the book together, though I wasn't so keen on the letters that bore no relation to characters in the book, possibly because in narration these came over as a bit superfluous, perhaps the written version has them in italics, or something.
The letters are always sealed and kept for the loved ones on the death of the patient, but Stella is not happy about one particular letter, which she wants to deliver now, before it is too late.
This was a great read, with an excellent balance of sadness,love and humour. I might well take a look at some of Rowan's more recent books, if not her earlier, more Chick-Lit titles.
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