Recently I’ve Read … The Turning Point by Freya North

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The Turning Point is the first Freya North novel I have read, but it certainly won’t be the last. Indeed, I downloaded another of her books almost as soon as I had finished this one – always a good sign!

For me, the defining feature of this novel was that I always felt I was reading about real people, never about Characters in a Novel. It feels as if you are part of their lives for the duration of the book.

The central characters are Frankie and Scott. Frankie is a children’s author who, when the book opens, is struggling with writer’s block. Aside from this, she doesn’t feel there is anything missing in her life. Contentedly single, she is in the process of settling into a new life in Norfolk with her nine-year-old daughter, Annabel, and her thirteen-year-old son, Sam.

Canadian composer and musician Scott lives in British Columbia, where he is also contentedly single. His central focus is his twenty-year-old daughter, Jenna, whose epilepsy makes her father especially protective.

A chance meeting between Frankie and Scott soon leads to love. Despite the miles that separate them, they decide to make a go of things, facing disapproval from Frankie’s mother and sister in particular.

The novel shows how certain relationships can have life-changing impacts. Frankie’s relationship with Scott makes her reassess her life: is Norfolk the right place for her to be? And is she planning to uproot her children for the right reasons. North explores the tension that stems from the need to balance family and romance.

Additionally, Scott gives Frankie a new outlook on life. She hasn’t really settled into her new community or gotten to know anyone: Scott encourages her to connect a little more with those around her.

The central relationship between Scott and Frankie feels real and the immediate connection between the two is very convincing. This makes the ensuing twist all the more gut-wrenching. Seriously, tear jerker doesn’t even cover it in this highly emotive and involving novel.

The supporting characters are just as well-drawn and engaging as Scott and Frankie. Both locations – Norfolk and British Columbia – are beautifully depicted: I am hankering after holidays in both locations now!

Scott and Frankie’s careers are interestingly portrayed, too, particularly Frankie’s: the depiction of her writer’s block in particular rang many bells, and I desperately wish her Alice and the Ditch Monster books were really available!

There is evidence of very thorough research here, particularly into epilepsy – which is informatively and thought-provokingly depicted – and First Nations people and customs. These topics are smoothly incorporated into the narrative, too, ensuring that the dreaded info dumping is neatly avoided.

If I had one slight niggle it was that the ending felt a little bit abrupt and clean-cut after the emotional trauma that had preceded it.

Overall, though, this is a skilfully written novel that really pulled me in and was difficult to put down. Freya North has created a cast of characters that feel like real people. A word of warning, though: that twist really is a shocker and, unless you have a heart of granite, you will need plenty of tissues on hand.

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