Set between two countries (Kenya and England), across two decades, Homecoming is a novel following the lives of four people: Yvonne, Kiama, Emma and Lewis. Whilst at university, Yvonne and Emma become best friends, but their friendship is put to the test when Emma becomes pregnant with Lewis’ child. Years on, Kiama, now 18 years old, is still trying to process his grief from the tragic death of his mother 10 years ago, and decides to return to Kenya in an attempt to find closure. The narrative is split between 2020 (the present) and the early 2000’s which is used to provide context for the current situation the characters face themselves in. Homecoming is a novel about family, relationships and friendship. It’s about confronting the past and relinquishing yourself to the pain of these memories so that you are able to move on from them.
Goldie’s biggest credit is that she is able to write believable, well-developed characters, ensuring that her reader actually cares about what happens to them. Her writing style is compassionate and emotional - not many writers can evoke feelings in their reader in the way Goldie does. As a result, the highlight of the entire novel for me was definitely Yvonne and Emma’s complex friendship. Yvonne and Emma could have been any two of the girls I went to university with and I loved the descriptions of their uni house in Harrow. Despite only hearing from Emma in flashback form, I feel like I got to know her as much as I did the other characters in the book.
I also loved the dynamic between Yvonne and Lewis - their love story was modern and complex but utterly real. For Yvonne, her attraction and secret relationship with Lewis becomes a source of guilt and confusion as she continues to lie to Emma about dating the father of her child. Reading this book, I really felt as if I was being shown a magnifying glass on the intimate lives of these four people and I enjoyed seeing how all of the relationship dynamics changed as the years went by.
Considering that this was a book about places and characters moving between them, I was expecting there to be a lot more description of the two locations. While I loved the scenes written in London, I did find some of the plot elements that took place in Kenya to be unneeded. Overall, I felt that London was much better written than Kenya and for this reason, I found the flashback sections of the book to be much more enjoyable than the present day narrative.
It’s hard to place this book in terms of genre. There were elements of mystery and thriller about it, but it was also relatively light-hearted and at points read like a romance novel. I haven’t read Nightingale Point, Goldie’s highly-acclaimed debut novel, and because of this I have little to compare her writing to. However, I do believe lovers of contemporary and romance fiction will enjoy this one. After having a taster of Goldie’s writing style, I would now definitely love to go back and read Nightingale Point.
A big thank you to Sian Baldwin and HQ Stories for gifting me a digital copy of Homecoming in exchange for an honest review.