At the end of January, I shared my intention to include a new feature on my site – reviews, or perhaps more accurately “recommendations” of the books by writers we know either in person or through WordPress, who have brought a smile to us with the books they published.
Since it was Melody’s suggestion that I start out on WordPress and also that I incorporate book reviews into this site, I wanted to start the ball rolling with one of her novels, her first in fact.
Melody tells me it is three years since she published her novel “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves“. Mel tells me that many of you already know her protagonist Annabelle Riley as she developed her story in a series of WordPress posts published over a six month period. Eventually, Melody took the characters and story-lines and used them to produce a three part novel series.
I was thrilled that Melody had been writing fiction. I know the quality of her work in education, and I also know of Mel’s experience in various roles within the health-service. Writing a delightfully lighthearted and deeply poignant fictional series that incorporates education in the form of life lessons and health – particularly a focus on mental health – this leans towards all of the experience and wisdom that Melody has acquired over the years. I was impressed at how Melody develops the issue of a character who is aware she is struggling to resolve challenges but is terrified of the consequences of revealing too much, especially to “professionals” who she fears might lock her away.
The stand out feature of Melody’s first novel is the character development that has become a hallmark of her writing. Melody even takes the time to reveal hidden layers within her minor characters – especially the older friends who have provided her with stability and wisdom. The story focuses on the journey of protagonist Annabelle Riley, and it is made clear from the first chapter that she has unwittingly attracted the attention of handsome Chris Ward. We spent the first few chapters of the book thinking this was purely a rocky romance between the two, however, the story turned out to be so much more. Annabelle and Chris both turn out to have their own personal “history” – at a young age both characters faced challenges, disappointments, made mistakes that have taken time to recover from. When Chris shares his own story of how much effort it took to overcome harmful behaviours, Annabelle warms to him and finds a confidant who she reveals more and more to. The feelings Chris Ward harbours for Annabelle deepen as she opens up to him.
It soon becomes apparent that Annabelle’s journey to recovery is still in it’s early stages. I am going to try to avoid spoilers, but I will say that while the relationship between Chris and Annabelle is a thread that weaves it’s way throughout the plot of Book One of this series, there are two other men that Chris finds himself competing with – Robin Grainger and Dean Mathers. I would love to share more about these two characters with you, but I don’t want to give too much away here. Melody has an exciting way of stirring curiosity about these two throughout the story…and it does not seem right to give away anything.
This story starts with a easy-going feel, but soon becomes an epic adventure – love, trust, family, friendships, fears, heartbreak, failures, growth, and life lessons galore! The highlight of Melody’s writing is the raw honest and provoking portrayal of the emotions within a character who is still clearly so vulnerable to the words and actions of the people who have the closest ties to her. Yet Melody continues to maintain a lighthearted touch, even during the darker moments of the story.
Although I became engrossed in the romantic elements of the story, I was even more fascinated by the relationship Annabelle has with her parents. Indeed, the journey that Annabelle has set out on in Book One becomes compelling and dramatic. By the end of this first book, I was very hungry to learn more about each of the characters and to know how their stories will develop. In addition, as a reader, you are so proud that Annabelle has started to share some of the complex challenges she has been hiding, but you know only too well that she is still hiding things from those she loves most. There was clearly a need for a sequel. Thank goodness Melody provided two more books to follow, allowing Annabelle Riley’s story to fully develop.
We love Melody’s style of writing and it is our wish that she goes on writing and sharing characters who are so layered and compelling to read about.
5 thoughts on “Lady Lewis’ Library – We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves”
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Wonderful – I found Annabelle’s story very moving. I love this book. The third book in the series is one of the most moving books I have read in years.
We love Mel!
Melody is great with people, so it make sense that her writing is character focused.