Finding Mother by Anne Allen #BookReview

Jeri Walker
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Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love… Such is the promise of the tagline from English author’s Anne Allen’s latest romantic novel Finding Mother. When faced with her husband’s continued adultery, a thirty-five-year-old Nicole feels compelled to finally learn more about her identity. She takes a sabbatical from her job as a television news reporter and tracks down her birth mother on the island of Guernsey. Once there, past secrets are revealed regarding why Nicole’s mother gave her up for adoption. Nicole’s new grandmother harbors past secrets as well which are gradually revealed as the two get to know one another.

Cover of Finding Mother

Based on reading and reviewing Anne Allen’s first novel Dangerous Waters, I eagerly anticipated the release of Finding Mother. In many ways, the author once again captures an intriguing sense of place. At one point, the main character from her prior novel makes a brief appearance and hints at the many potential stories Anne should be able to mine by exploring the fictional social lives of the residents of Guernsey Island in the English Channel.

That being said, some of the details regarding fixer-upper houses and over-grown gardens feel too similar to ground already covered in her first novel. In any case, Anne Allen does excel in creating pictures with words. She makes Guernsey seem like such an idyllic location that any reader would covet to visit. Her skill in rendering setting details is one many authors could learn from.

The author’s overall style is one intended for vacation reading. Anne creates characters readers can readily connect with, even if they tend to speak in exclamations a bit too much. Finding Mother isn’t just about Nicole meeting her birth mother. However, the main conflict of the novel is resolved so early on in the story. The biggest stumbling block for me was how hunky-dory the story lines played out. It’s great that nearly every character gets their happy ending, but the struggle to get there needed to be more present on the page.

Perhaps the conflicts of the story felt diluted because multiple points of view are used throughout. At its heart, the story was Nicole’s to tell. When Nicole’s birth mother, maternal grandmother, as well as her father get to recount aspects of the story, the reader may not know who to root for. When everything falls into place so easily, many readers may feel like they are reading scene after scene where the forward motion of the story feels unearned.

Author photo of Anne Allen

I am undoubtedly a fan of Anne’s work. It will be interesting to see what plot will drive her next Guernsey novel and whether or not the conflicts and characters will come across as more fully rounded. Romance is great, but it needs to come at a price the reader can sink their teeth into.

What do you look for in a romance story?

You can connect with Anne and her social sites via her website. Please feel free to read her author interview that appeared this blog as well. Both of her novels are available on Amazon.

For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria or visit the Review Request Page.

All images are for promotional purposes only and comply with fair use guidelines.

Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB

Author: Jeri Walker

Need help writing that book blurb, bio, or newsletter? Give your book the attention it deserves. Book your copy edit, manuscript critique, or proofread today. Promotional discounts change monthly.

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32 Comments

    • Jacquie, the happy ending did come with a little bit of an emotional shake-up right before. For me as a reader, I wanted the conflicts to result in more tension so the end of the book would feel like more of a release.

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  1. I am not much for romance type stories, at least not without darker elements involved. Something you said brings a question to my mind though. You mentioned Nicole’s new grandmother. I am sure this is something within the story itself. But I now have questions about it that I will probably never answer without picking up the book.

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    • Jon, this book contained some heartache but not the eerie atmospheric effects that Anne’s novel first did regarding the cold room in the house. I think that’s what I missed most in this book. The grandma’s character is ripe for inspiring more stories later on.

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  2. Interesting comments everyone!
    This was the first time I’d written a novel with multiple view points, although the main one was still that of Nicole. I wanted to explore the stories of the women behind Nicole’s adoption, which would have been difficult without their own ‘voice’. The grandmother, in particular, has a very interesting backstory which might feature in another novel. I love writing stories that show similarities between the different generations of women. This was a theme in my first book, Dangerous Waters.
    Thanks, Jeri, for the thought-provoking review 🙂
    Anne

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  3. Nice review! I like the cover of the book. I haven’t read a lot of romance novels, but I would think they’re mostly character-driven. That’s what I would look for in a romance novel. I would want juicy character development.

    Congrats to Anne Allen, and I wish her the best with her books!

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    • Denise, as with most genres, I’ll pick a romance book up on occasion. Anne really does create a wide variety of characters that the reader can feel connected to.

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  4. Really good review, Jeri! I like the symbolism on the cover. You mentioned the conflict being resolved early on. For me, that equates to a movie that has the accelerator pressed down until halfway or three-quarters of the way through. Then the story just coasts the rest of the way. I would prefer the fuel of the main story continue through to the end. I hope that made sense 🙂

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    • Mike, the comparison you’ve made does make complete sense. The story did continue to evolve after Nicole found her birth mother. For me, the sense of conflict faded too much, but that doesn’t mean it disappeared.

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  5. Mike, if I may say something. Nicole does find her birth mother fairly early on, but that is far from the end of the story. There are issues with the other people involved in the ‘new’ family together with the feelings of the two ‘mothers’. There’s also conflict for Nicole in her relationship with her husband. So I don’t think I stopped pressing the accelerator down quite as quickly as it may sound!

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  6. The book intrigues me. I am in aw of anyone who writes well, even more when they are able to capture the voices of multiple generations with each harboring secrets and a story all their own. That takes talent. Regardless of its structure, a good read is a good read. 🙂

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  7. Stories about mothers and daughters tug my heartstrings. Perhaps because I’ve had three mothers in my lifetime and lost all of them. I trust your sensibilities, Jeri, and this was a good and fair review. I’m likely to read it at some point (after I get through the existing pile).

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    • Jagoda, I wasn’t aware that you’ve loved and lost three mothers. I’m so sorry. Even though the pacing felt off at times in this one, it was still a good read. I’m just one picky customer, I guess 😉 Anne’s a good writer and I’ll be looking forward to her third book.

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  8. Sounds like a story I would be interested in. My grandmother gave up her youngest son for adoption and he found her 12 or so years ago.

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  9. Based on your review I think I would go back and read the first book. It may be that I would then decide to try this one. 🙂

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    • Beth, this one was especially hard to write given the mix of positive and critical issues I found with the story. As always, I try to remain fair in my reactions.

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  10. I read Dangerous Waters on your recommendation & enjoyed it despite the fact I’m not usually a romance reader, so it’s disappointing that her 2nd novel is covering similar ground. I went for holidays in Guernsey as a child, so it had a special draw for me.

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  11. I like mysteries and I’ve just started to read some of the romance/mysteries which I’m enjoying. I’m not a fan of pure romance but I know many people are.

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    • Jeannette, the mystery factor was a bit less in Finding Mother as opposed to Breaking Waters. That is probably why I felt more drawn into the first book more so than Anne’s second book.

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  12. This is a story that would interest me I think. I’m not usually into romance so much as the idea of the points of view from the different generations.

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    • Becc, stories that bring together multiple generations can indeed be very intriguing. The mix of characters and their varied backgrounds provides lots of great opportunities for the author.

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  13. Hi Jeri,

    I might read romance if I had more time or had a leg injury and needed to stay in one place while it healed. But at this point in my life, I just don’t have time. I love your critique style. You really dig deep and bring out things many readers wouldn’t know how to articulate. Nice job my friend.

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    • Grace, I don’t mind a romance every now and again. As with most genre fiction, I like to read all kinds every so often just to keep up with the conventions of that genre. It means a lot that you find value in my critique style 🙂

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