All Faith Harp wants is a quiet life – to take care of her troubled brother, Sam, earn enough money to stop the wolves snapping at her heels, and to keep her past buried as deep as possible. And after years of upheaval, she might have just about managed it: she’s engaged to the gorgeous and successful Perry is holding down a job, and Sam’s latest treatment seems to actually be working this time. But, for Faith, things never seem to stay simple for long. Her domineering mother-in-law-to-be is planning a nightmare wedding, including the wedding dress from hell. And the man who killed her mother is released from prison, sending her brother tumbling back into mental illness.
When secretly planning the wedding she really wants, Faith stumbles across a church choir that challenges far more than her ability to hold a tune. She ends up joining the choir, led by the fierce choir-mistress, Hester, who is determined to do whatever it takes to turn the motley crew of women into something spectacular. She also meets Dylan, the church’s vicar, who is different to any man she has ever met before.
In the midst of planning her wedding to ‘millionaire playboy’ Perry, Faith is more than aware that her big day is not going to be the one that she wants. It will be exactly as Perry’s interfering mother, Larissa, has planned it (which involves Faith wearing the notorious ‘Ghost Web’ dress).
However, it soon becomes apparent that bridezilla-mother-in-laws-to-be are not the only thing on Faith’s mind. Faith is struggling with the responsibility of supporting her troubled brother, Sam, both financially and mentally, as well as coming to terms with some of the dark secrets that are lurking in her past.
During one of Faith’s secret wedding planning sessions with her friend Marilyn (i.e when they check out the dresses and locations that Faith actually wants for her wedding) she finds herself accidentally joining a church choir when she pays a visit to meet the Church Minister, Dylan. It’s then that Faith’s story really begins as she joins the quirky all-women choir and attempts to navigate relationships, friendships and to finally shut the door on the demons of her past…
I almost felt like Christmas when the latest offering from Beth Moran landed on my doormat. I have read both of Beth’s previous books and thoroughly enjoyed them so I knew that I would be in for a treat with The Name I Call Myself…
The thing about this novel is that if you haven’t read any of Beth’s books before then it would be all too easy to look at the humorous cover (which I absolutely adore) and dismiss this book as a light & fluffy holiday read. Whilst there are definite moments of hilarity in this book there is so, so much more to it than first meets the eye. I love it when a book can completely turn my first impressions on its head and turns out to be something that I wasn’t expecting, and The Name I Call Myself did exactly that.
It doesn’t always make for easy reading and I guarantee that there will be moments when you can feel your heart breaking. Faith’s story is not at all an easy read, but I was desperately hoping that she would emerge on the other side stronger and finally accepting herself for who she was.
Of course it’s not all of a darker tone – there’s plenty of warmth and humour within the story too and the way that Beth seamlessly blends the two together really should be commended. In fact, Beth Moran is fast becoming a name to watch in the world of contemporary women’s fiction. She has this knack for creating strong, fascinating and above all, believable characters you can relate to and root for. She really brought the (quite frankly terrifying) Hester and her choir to life for me. Hester was certainly a force to be reckoned with (“None of that fake food evvvverrr.”) Marilyn was also a fantastic character, as was Dylan. They were such fun to read about and each brought their own special something to the story.
Beth covers so many tricky topics within one story. Family, abuse, mental health, violence, friendship, being able to fit in and of course, love. She somehow manages to mould a terrific story out of so many differing themes making for a thought provoking and hugely enjoyable read that I absolutely loved.
This is probably my favourite novel of Beth’s so far. I loved how she surprised me with the path the story took and she has created something that bit different to the norm. Beth Moran has fast placed herself well and truly on my list of favourite authors and I can’t wait to read more from her, hopefully in the very near future…
A huge thank you to Rhoda at Lion Hudson for sending me a review copy of The Name I Call Myself.