How to Belong

How to Belong


Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher's shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.

Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa's experience of the community couldn't be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.

Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.

Our Review

Isn’t it rewarding to read a book that leaves you feeling content with its conclusion? How to Belong by Sarah Franklin is one such book. This isn’t the first book I have read by this author and nor will it be the last.

The author sets such a homely and soothing tone is the book that you feel like you personally know not just the characters but the town itself and the forest too.

Bigshot lawyer Jo Butler is returning home from London to a small town in the Forest of Dean. Jo is devasted that her parents are giving up their family run butchers in order to retire. The shop, known only as Butler’s, is a family legacy and Jo is hoping that she can save it from closing by injecting some fresh ideas.

Tessa has a very different experience of the community Jo loves. She is someone who has slipped through the cracks of this tight-knit community and she is very much outsider. Tessa has moved back to the area following a relationship breakdown and is nursing a secret which means she is unable to work as much as she would like. The only solution for her is to find a lodger.

Enter Jo.

How to Belong could so easily have taken many different roots which would have cheapened the feel of the novel. In particular, I love that the author ignored the cliches that could potentially attach themselves to Jo and Liam’s friendship.

I enjoyed the way Jo should have strong roots in the community but on her return, she finds things are much harder than she initially anticipated.

How to Belong has a whole host of minor characters who add to the small town feel of the novel without ever feeling superfluous.

I feel like this is a book that will gain something with each read and I will certainly be returning to it.



Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.5/5

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