We’ve come to take you Home by Susan Gandar

We’ve come to take you Home explores two characters’ lives: Sam’s, a modern day teenager with a pilot for a father; and Jess, a young girl living through the First World War.

Sam’s parents are fighting because her father is away so much. Their fighting seems to trigger strange shifts in reality for Sam. One minute she is riding a fairground ride or running down the road after her father’s car and the next she is somewhere else entirely seeing airships, bombs, bodies, her own fingers lacing up a bodice. It becomes clear quite quickly that she is slipping into Jess’s life. Why that might be takes a novel to unfold.

Jess lives in the country and at first the Great War barely touches her. Her father is too old for the initial draft and for some time Jess’s family life continues unbroken. Then her father is called up and the real hardship of life in an England of food shortages begins to take its toll forcing Jess’s mother to send her up to London. She goes into service in the house her mother worked in as a young woman. Wartime London brings hard labour, love and heartache. Will Jess ever feel she has a family again?

It’s difficult to describe this novel without giving away plot, but you can rest assured there is more to uncover. I’m certain that this is a book that will have wide appeal. The centrality of the nuclear family and the importance of loving parents will be a great draw for many readers. While I admire the writing and plotting of the novel, I found myself more interested in Jess’s story than Sam’s and unfortunately, for me, the whole book came together too neatly leaving me with questions, threads of uncertainty that seemed not to fit in the knot of the ending.

Ultimately, We’ve come to take you Home is a family love story and ghost story combined, full of intrigue and written with care. Though it doesn’t quite work for me, it may well work for you. If you like the idea, We’ve come to take you Home won’t disappoint.

Next week I’m reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

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