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Home Stretch by Graham Norton

When tickets went on sale for this year’s virtual Henley Literary Festival I jumped at the Graham Norton event, because well I just love him and thought it would be fun. I hadn’t read any of his books before so I was really interested to find out whether I’d like his writing and the short answer is I loved it!

The story opens at the scene of a car crash. Six young friends returning home from a day out; three survive but three are killed. For Connor, the shame of being the driver means he can no longer live in the small town.

Connor leaves Ireland and tries to make a new life for himself first in Liverpool, then London before finally settling in New York. His past, his longing and regrets always haunting him. One night in a bar he meets a young man and this encounter forces Connor to confront his past.

I really didn’t know what to expect with this one but I thought it was brilliant. I was hooked from the first page. I would say that there are a lot of characters introduced to start but he is such a skilled storyteller that I got to know them all quite quickly.

This is a story that is full of heart, I did wonder if it might be a bit of a depressing read but it is actually a story of hope. The two main characters are Connor and his sister Ellen and I found both of their stories to be really compelling.

Listening to Graham speak about this book last night it was clear how much it meant to him, he described it as “his most personal to date”. This is his first book where the character is gay and there were so many parts of Connor’s life that made me stop and think.

There are a lot of themes in this book that he has handled brilliantly; homophobia, stigma, loneliness, regret and love. I thought he tied it all together beautifully and I found it to be a really moving read.

Absolutely one that I would recommend, I read it in a day and thought it was a great read. I’ve got The Keeper sat on my TBR and I can’t wait to read more of his work.

Have you a read and loved any of his books?

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