Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Island Affair by Helena Halme. It’s a contemporary read, a tale of different types of love, but mainly it’s one of grief and trying to find a way to heal.
A prize-winning author, Helena Halme writes contemporary fiction with a hint of both Nordic Noir and romance. She’s a former BBC journalist, bookseller and magazine editor. Originally from Finland where she gained an MSc in Marketing, she also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and writes in English.
Helena acts as Nordic Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors and helps other writers publish and market their books.
Helena has published seven fiction titles, including The English Heart, a best-selling Nordic romance, which won an Awesome Indies badge on publication. The bittersweet 1980s love story between a Finnish student and a British Navy officer is now a series, including a prequel novella, The Young Heart, the sequels The Faithful Heart, The Good Heart and Helena’s latest title, The True Heart, book four in The Nordic Heart Series. Helena has also published a non-fiction title, Write Your Story: Turn Your Life into Fiction in 10 Easy Steps. Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching.
Can one summer mend a broken heart?
After the tragic loss of their 17-year-old son, journalist Alicia and surgeon Liam struggle to keep their marriage afloat. During their usual holiday to Åland, the Nordic islands where Alicia grew up, the rift between the couple deepens.
Enter tall, blonde Patrick, with the most piercing blue eyes Alicia has ever seen. When Patrick confides in Alicia about the near loss of his daughter and the breakdown of his marriage, Alicia is surprised to feel an affinity with the Swedish reporter. He’s the only person who understands Alicia.
But secrets held by people close to Alicia give her life another surprising turn and she finds there is a reason to live – and love – again.
This story hit a personal note for me, because our family has been through a really traumatic time in the last six months. We have had to learn to cope with the emotional upheaval caused by grief, especially because it manifests itself differently in each person. Anger, self-destructive behaviour, depression and denial are just a few coping mechanisms, there are plenty more.
I guess that is why the grief element of this storyline drew me in like a moth to a flame. Halme captures the way the death of their young son destroys the relationship and marriage of Alicia and Liam. Neither of them are willing to accept how the other is dealing with the tragedy. Alicia is just surviving on a day-to-day basis and Liam has found comfort in the arms of another woman.
They come to a crossroads and decide to go their separate ways, which is where the tale really begins. Alicia finds common ground and a flirty romantic connection with Patrick. The helpful and willing listener helps her to come to terms with the loss of her son.
The Nordic atmosphere and stoic attitude of the townspeople gives the story a quirky charm. There is an underlying tension of a thriller that flows through this hotbed of emotional turmoil, which isn’t an easy feat considering the pain that hovers around the main characters.
It’s a contemporary read, a tale of different types of love, but mainly it’s one of grief and trying to find a way to heal. Both Alicia and Liam learn that when one door shuts and disappears other ones open up. Whether they choose to walk through the same door is an individual decision. Sometimes tragic events show the fissures in relationships in a brighter light. The tragedy will either tear them apart forever or make them base their relationship on something other than their living child. Perhaps to build upon the deep love they shared for him instead.