Twenty years ago, Ellen left her beloved Ireland to make a new life in Australia. Now struggling to cope with the death of her much loved husband, Nick, Ellen finds her world turned upside down when an unexpected visitor lands on her doorstep.
The arrival of Gerry Clancy, her first love from Ireland, may just be the catalyst that pulls Ellen out of her pit of grief, but it will also trigger a whole new set of complications for her and those she holds dear.
Leaving Ocean Road is a warm, funny, delightful romance novel for fans of Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly and Monica Mcinnerney — the story takes us across Australia, Greece and Ireland and explores a long lost love and the chance of reconnection.
Ellen Constantinopolous has been living in South Australia for twenty years, and she’s happy. Her family — her Greek husband Nick and her daughter Louise — live on a farm in a rural town in South Australia. But then Nick dies suddenly when his car veers off the road and hits a tree, and Ellen is in mourning. Louise heads off to university but calls her mother every night to check up on her. Ellen is struggling to move on with her life after her husband has died. She is still weighed down with depression and grief — she struggles to pay bills or check the mail or even get up in the morning.
But when Ellen receives a letter from Gerry Clancy, her first love back in Ireland, she is able to pull herself out of her grief. He still lives in Ireland, but is now in Adelaide visiting his son. He wants to see her. The two reconnect and with Ellen’s best friend Tracey pushing her to try to make things work, Ellen starts to resume her life and she feels like she is able to move on.
“Once inside the house, Ellen went upstairs to make the bed she’d been in too much of a rush to make that morning. It was the little things that would keep her sane, she realised. The small routines she’d let go in the height of her grief. Only suddenly and in a fit of shame at the thought of Gerry Clancy seeing the state of the place had she been spurred into action. Maybe the timing of his visit hadn’t been so bad.”
There’s a hurdle in their love story when a deep and buried secret comes out, and Gerry and Ellen must face their relationship and their future. Tension builds between Ellen and Louise, because she is still grieving the death of her father and she doesn’t feel ready to forget him. The family is fragile, and Ellen must work to save it.
“Last night both she and Jennifer had been so shocked they’d hardly said a word on the drive to Felicity’s. The crew were there when they arrived and the punch was flowing. Louise didn’t care how bad it tasted as long as it helped her forget about what happened at the Popes’.”
Ellen is a wonderful protagonist. She’s strong and determined, and also incredibly relatable and likeable. She is an anchor for the book, the entire plot revolving around her. The relationships between Ellen and Gerry and Ellen and Louise are well-developed and plausibly placed. Additionally, Tracey is a hilarious side character and I loved any scene she was in. She provided comic relief and helped break up an otherwise sombre and melancholic scene.
Leaving Ocean Road is about learning to let go of the past and embrace the possibility of a new future. There are romantic plots for both Ellen and Louise, and together they find hope and purpose amidst their grief and mourning. Esther has done a great job of capturing this and illustrating it effectively and realistically.
This book may be a romance novel, but it’s also about family and friendships and the importance of letting go of the past and embracing the future. It’s sweet, but not over the top. I recommend this to fans of romance novels.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Leaving Ocean Road
Hachette Book Publishers