Another Chance

No Place to Call Home

Fiction - Literary
116 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Another Chance: No Place to Call Home is a literary fiction novella written by Joseph Woodward. The Woodward family name hailed from London, England, where Ernest Woodward was born and lived until he was seventeen years old. He was born in 1889 to Ruby and Malcolm Woodward, and Ernest had an older sister, named Flossie. Ruby’s health had steadily declined, however, and she died when Ernest was quite young. The five-year-old was doted upon by his father, Flossie, and Miss Adams, who acted as a mother to the two children and took care of the family when Mr. Woodward was away on business. When Ernest was 12, Malcolm met Catherine. She too had lost her husband, and the shared grief was a starting point in a friendship that quickly blossomed into something more. Malcolm was sure that her children and his would make a grand family, and his large house in town would ably fit them all. But there was something off about Catherine, something Malcolm’s children and Miss Adams instantly noted, even if Malcolm was oblivious to it.

Joseph Woodward introduces what he calls the “missing link” in his family history -- those years his ancestor spent growing up in London, England before he emigrated to the United States and began working on the Ohio River. I was most impressed by the psychological insights the author displays in examining the life Ernest had before his father met Catherine and noting how it changed after she was installed in the household, and he was no longer considered the young master of the house. Another Chance is well-written and the author’s research into the culture and lifestyle of business-class Londoners at the time gives this historical fiction authenticity. His characters are well developed and credible, and the plot kept me involved and engaged at all times. Another Chance: No Place to Call Home: Lost Between the Continents, Book 1 is most highly recommended.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Joseph Woodward shares a generational tale in Another Chance: No Place to Call Home. Ernest is a young lad living in London. As his fifth birthday approaches, he anxiously awaits the return of his father, Malcolm Woodward. Father always brings home unique gifts from his business travels. Ernest’s mother, Ruby, is sick and her condition rapidly worsens. Mr. Woodward decides to cease traveling and spend time with his children and dying wife. After the death of Ruby, life goes on for the family. Ernest and his older sister, Flossie, attend school, play cricket and Mr. Woodward returns to his busy lifestyle. It is during this time that Malcolm meets Catherine. Catherine is an attractive widow with children of her own. She and Malcolm have much in common. However, Catherine is a very assertive and demanding woman. After a brief courtship, Malcolm and Catherine decide to marry and join their two families into one. All seems wonderful. However, with Catherine, nothing is as it seems. Ernest longs for the day when he can escape her control.

“It’s children who carry life forward.” Joseph Woodward pens a biographical piece of fiction based on his family history. Another Chance: No Place to Call Home is the first book in his trilogy, Lost between the Continents. The central focus of the narrative is characterization. The story unfolds as a timeline of events that shape and develop the cast of characters, especially Ernest. Ernest’s character grows and matures through a series of childhood conflicts. The age-old Cinderella theme of the wicked stepmother is the most prevalent. However, the core longing within the young protagonist is to have his father to be proud of him. This driving force creates a dynamic change in his character, causing him to break free and begin a life of his own in America. Although the storytelling is straightforward and matter of fact in writing style, it reads with captivating ease. By the end of the story, you want to know more about the life of Ernest Woodward.

Tracy Young

Ernest and Flossie were lucky children. They lived in London in the late 19th century with their loving father and a housekeeper who looked after them like a mother would. Their own mother was ill with pneumonia and they could only have short visits with her as she was so weak. Another Chance by Joseph Woodward is the first novel in a family saga that tells their tale. Unfortunately, late 19th century London was not the best place to have pneumonia and the children were left motherless at an early age. Miss Adams ran the household and looked after the children as their father, Malcolm, had to travel for work. Ernest and Flossie were close, and life seemed to get back to normal. Although they missed their mother, they spent quality time as a family. However, Malcolm was lonely and missed female companionship. A trip to Edinburgh led to a meeting with Catherine, the confident, self-assured assistant to a business contact. She made it clear that she was interested in Malcolm and he soon became involved with her. Moving both a new bride and a new family into their house was exciting at first for Ernest, but it soon became clear that his position in the family was changing.

Another Chance: No Place to Call Home is a great story and I look forward to reading the next part. Family life can be a minefield, and this is a classic tale of a family in disruption. Another Chance by Joseph Woodward is a well-researched tale of Victorian London and a successful businessman who is involved in a new era of trade. Woodward paints a vivid picture of a successful family that is reaping the rewards from the father’s success yet also describes the poverty and squalid areas near the docks. This is a realistic tale of a stepmother and her children and the impact they have on the household, especially Ernest. This true to life story will keep you riveted and ready for the next installment!

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Ernest is quite young when his mother dies. He and his older sister are saddened, but their housekeeper, Miss Adams, helps fill the gap. Unfortunately, Ernest’s father travels a lot, and, not fully recovered from the loss of his wife, finds someone else to fill the void. He brings home a new wife with five children of her own. While Ernest and his sister try to accept the new stepmother and her children, the stepmother makes life unbearable, especially for Ernest. The stepmother even manages to sever the special bond Ernest once shared with his father. The boy is bereft and at a loss as to how to survive in this unhappy home. Finally, at the age of seventeen, Ernest has taken all he can. He sneaks aboard a freighter and works his way to New York where he starts a new life.

Joseph Woodward’s Another Chance: No Place to Call Home is a family drama, unraveling the mysteries behind the author’s ancestor, Ernest Woodward. The story reads like a plot from a Catherine Cookson novel, complete with clever descriptive passages and intense characterization. The reader gets a strong sense of living in an upper-middle-class home in the late nineteenth century, in London England. The heart-wrenching story of a young boy whose life shatters slowly and painfully after his mother’s death is one that speaks profoundly of so many similar family situations in that era. A creative story in which the author has invited his readers into a real-life plot. An excellent read. Looking forward to book 2.

K.C. Finn

Another Chance: No Place to Call Home is a short work of literary fiction penned by author Joseph Woodward, and forms the first book of the Lost Between The Continents trilogy. Based on some of the real-life events which happened to the author’s grandfather, Ernest Woodward, this fictional tale tells the story of a young man growing up in London at the very turn of the twentieth century, who comes to America with the hopes of building a new, independent life. The character of Ernest lives up to his name, seeking an honest living and the chance to do well on his journey down the Ohio River. The love, faith, and gifts which he finds along the way make up a biopic journey and family drama.

Despite its relatively short length, this highly readable work chronicles a life well lived by a man who was clearly beloved by his family. The tale is told in different intervals where Ernest interacts with the members of his family, and I especially liked the fictionalized glimpses into his early life. Author Joseph Woodward does well to imagine and bring to life what it might have been like traveling on freighters and riverboats and toiling for your supper at such a hard time in early American history. I was also fascinated by the subplot of John Woodward and his development in the church. Overall, Another Chance gives a great start to what proposes to be a very interesting trilogy filled with family ties, good clear writing, and a strong sense of personal narrative.