Coming Home to Island House

Written by Erica James
Review by Ruth Downie

It is summer 1939, and Jack Deveraux’s death is less a matter of grief than of challenge to his estranged children: his will stipulates that they may only inherit his wealth if they spend a week together in their former family home. Each of them has reason to resent not only Jack but each other, and none of them trust Romily, the young stepmother who has inherited the house and the tricky task of holding the family together.

Erica James is a skillful narrator, neatly weaving together the stories of a household and a village on the brink of war as everyone is tested and changed in some way by both domestic and national events. It’s the kind of novel that’s often described as “heart-warming”: an ultimately positive family saga of the sort that’s hugely popular with readers of the genre, and deservedly so.