Friday, September 23, 2016

Audiobook Review: Windfallen by Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Tantor Audio
Pub. Date: March 10th, 2014
Length: 14 hours, 52 minutes


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You, the basis for the major motion picture, comes a breathtaking drama of two women whose lives entwine through a lovely English seaside house.

For Lottie Swift, Arcadia has always been magical. The breathtaking art deco house perched above the shoreline of the well-ordered village of Merham seems to stand still throughout the years. It has never changed, not really, but Lottie's fate and fortune have been inextricably linked with that of the beautiful house, and it will forever be fixed in her mind as a symbol of adventure, youth, and of loves lost and gained. Even as her life—and the house—fall into disrepair.

Years later another young woman comes to Merham. A designer hired to make over the now-empty Arcadia, Daisy Parsons seeks a new beginning, as Lottie once did. Fleeing a broken relationship and now facing being a single mother, Daisy finds refuge in the house, and something more—a love she thought she would never know again and a friendship unlike any she’s experienced before.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I've read a couple novels by Jojo Moyes (The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You) and really enjoy her ability to whisk me away to either the past or the present with humor and heart, all while making me care for her characters and the ups and downs they experience. With Windfallen, I felt like I got the best of both worlds: a look into the past as Lottie Swift tackles the obstacles before her shortly after WWII as well as a present storyline showing Daisy Parsons tackling her own set of issues. What I wasn't expecting was the similarities between these two women and how their lives would become intertwined.

Unlike most novels I've read that deal with dual timelines, the first half of Windfallen deals exclusively with Lottie's coming-of-age story as she decides to stay in Merham after being sent to the country and out of London during the WWII bombings on the city. I quickly came to like Lottie as she navigated the uppity family she lived with that never quite accepted her as their own. I ached with her as she fell in love with someone not  meant for her (as well as felt for the boy who clearly loves her and which she doesn't feel the same for). She's a kind, forthright and sympathetic young character and I'm very glad I already liked her by the time we see her in what I think of as "Daisy's half" of the story as she becomes quite the crotchety and overly opinionated older woman. This is somewhat understandable given her life experiences, but still.

I wasn't as big a fan of Daisy's story but I did appreciate how she grew as a character during her time remodeling Arcadia House. We get to see her go from a battered and broken single mom into a strong woman able to face anyone - whether that be a brash boss, busybody townfolk, selfish ex-lover, or pushy babysitter - with confidence and determination. I also liked how she ended up influencing and helping Lottie as much as Lottie helped her. They both had so much in common, even given the very different circumstances they experienced, and it was interesting to see how both their stories would twist together and apart and ultimately resolve.

As I always do with audiobooks, I should mention that I enjoyed the narrator (Michelle Ford) and thought she did a good job of differentiating the characters. She did an excellent job of effectively expressing the humor in the story as well, and was able to shift between warring emotions clearly and with a good bit of impact for the listener.

Jojo Moyes has such a unique way of telling a story that I'm pretty much a fan for life. While Windfallen isn't my favorite of her novels I've read (that designation still goes to The Girl You Left Behind) it is still a great story full of heart, humor, and emotion.   

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it's very pretty, although I don't know if it really matches the story. I could be wrong but those trees look like they have fruit on them, and I don't recall there being any discussion of fruit trees. Otherwise, this could be Daisy walking through the overgrown gardens of Arcadia House. I'm a little surprised that the author's name is so big as well, although I imagine her name alone is a huge draw to the story. All in all a nice cover.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

I purchased a copy of Windfallen for my own collection. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.

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