The Road Home Review
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After losing his job at the Baryn sawmill (because they ran out of trees), 42-year-old Russian widower Lev buys a bus ticket for London, hoping to find work so he can send money back home to his mother, Ina, and his five-year-old daughter, Maya.

After a couple of days of living on the streets of London and failing to find a job, Lev turns to Lydia, the kind young woman who had sat next to him on the bus from Russia. Lydia helps him find an inexpensive room to rent and a job cleaning up in a fancy restaurant.

Before long, Lev’s life seems perfect. He doesn’t mind sleeping in a child’s bunk bed, and he becomes friends with his housemate, boisterous Irish divorcee Christy Slane. The restaurant job is hard—and the hours are long—but Lev discovers a love of food that he never knew existed when he lived in Russia. He even starts a powerful but perplexing relationship with a young chef named Sophie. But then things start falling apart—both in London and back at home.

Rose Tremain’s The Road Home is a moving story of a man who’s trying to do what’s best for his family. Though he often struggles with the fear and loneliness of being on his own in a strange country—and sometimes he even stumbles into hopelessness—Lev is a strong and immensely likeable character. He’s motivated by his love for his daughter. He’s pushed forward by his fun-loving but strong-willed friend, Rudi. And he’s determined both to make a better life for his family and to find love again. He eventually finds it, too—though not where he expects.

Though the subject matter may seem somewhat heavy—and, at times, it is—The Road Home is also a sweet story that’s sometimes surprisingly funny. While Lev’s recollections of his beloved wife and her illness might bring tears to your eyes, his stories about Rudi and his antics will often make you laugh out loud. In fact, Tremain includes plenty of comical situations and characters along the way to keep the story light.

This elegantly-written novel is a beautiful story of life, hope, determination, and love. It’s honest and real—and, consequently, it doesn’t have a neat or predictable ending. Though the story does come together well in the end, it doesn’t have the fluffy, chick-lit kind of ending—in which all of the ends are tied up and everyone lives happily ever after. Instead, it’s a real-life kind of ending. And that helps to make The Road Home a memorable story. It will warm your heart, and it’ll bring a smile to your face. And though, at over 400 pages long, it’s not a quick read, it’s well worth the extra time—because it’s a story that you’re sure to savor.

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