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Reviewed by Sandy Masia for Readers' Favorite
Elisabeth Burnham feels like a total failure. She is submerged in a sea of debt because of her old historic New England house and none of her clients is able to pay her for the legal work she does for them. Desperate, she decides to go to the local law firm, Lawson & Lawson, to beg for any work to help stay above water. To her embarrassment and surprise, the person taking the meeting is her ex-boyfriend, who had left for New York eight years ago under unpleasant circumstances. There is history there, a painful unfinished past which just begs to be resolved and makes for the subject of Coming Home To Greenleigh among other things.
Coming Home To Greenleigh by Cassandra Austen is an elegant novel. The prose is fulfilling and the characters are endearing. Cassandra Austen has highlighted the idyllic, humble and heart-warming spirit of a New England small town to the delight and enjoyment of her readers. Cassandra Austen weaves a story that is nuanced, deep, slow-burning and engaging. She has made perceptive decisions with her plot, subverting her reader’s expectations by sidestepping and exceeding them. The story never goes where you think it might, it doesn't do what you think it will, and it doesn’t get its appeal from exploiting tried and true tropes and sensibilities. It refuses to be bridled by convention, expectations or indulgence. It does all this with class, softness, and naturalness that pleasantly baffle the reader.
How could a book have all the features of conventional chick-lit, satisfy chick-lit tastes and yet be bold (in an understated way) and refreshing? This is the greatest trick Cassandra Austen pulls off in this book, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how she did it. For instance, it refuses to fuel itself on sexual tension and the gentleman of interest isn’t a bad boy, ultra-wealthy or genteel; he is flawed, reasonably successful but all too human like us. This is just the beginning of it. Coming Home To Greenleigh is wholesome. It is splendid. It is right. It is beautiful.