Review: Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Home Stretch is Graham Norton’s third novel and this was the third time I’ve listened to Graham read me his story. And let me tell you, Graham Norton ticks all the boxes when it comes to excellent audiobook narration. He is articulate, passionate and varies his accents perfectly for each character. Alongside this, the story was just fantastic, I loved every second that I was listening to this.

Tell me the story…

In 1987, six teenagers are in a car crash that changes all their lives. Home Stretch explores how this one unexpected event has such wide-ranging consequences. For the survivors of the crash and their close families.

The time frame starts in the 1980s and moves to the 2000s as we learn more about the character’s stories. It’s Connor’s life that we follow most closely. Convicted of being the driver of the car and causing the fatal crash, he is no longer welcome in Mullinmore, his small (fictional) Irish village, so leaves in a cloud of misery and shame. For more than one reason… Home Stretch also looks at what is was like to be gay in Ireland in the 1980s, when, if you came from a small village like Connor, it just wouldn’t be accepted. In order to have a chance of living an authentic life, he had to leave.

We also meet Ellen and Martin and their children Finbar and Aisling and learn how all their lives are intertwined. As is the way of life, Connor can’t run from his past forever, so when he returns of Mullinmore, just what kind of reception will he get and what other secrets will be revealed… It’s this intriguing balance of both exploring important issues and understanding the complexities of family dramas that made Home Stretch such an enticing story for me.

Emotive and charming

Just like his previous two novels, A Keeper and Holding, Graham wonderfully captures the nuances, secrets and thrumming undercurrent that hums through all small villages. He crafts intricate characters that feel so real. You are right there with them and feel like a resident too.

I finished Home Stretch walking in the rain (I was caught in a random shower but it somehow added to the mood) with tears on my cheeks. Bursting with emotion, loveable characters and a riveting, clever story, I would describe it as a cosy drama with an all-important edge. Graham Norton can really write a beautiful story and I literally can’t wait for his next book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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