Turning for Home by Barney Norris review – great sensitivity

The acclaimed author’s latest novel sees two lives unravel as they wait in dread for a party to begin

Robert, a widower, is waiting at home for the arrival of his family and friends to celebrate his 80th birthday. His granddaughter, Kate, 25, waits with him. They are both dreading the forthcoming party. Robert – a senior civil servant at the time of the Troubles in Northern Ireland – receives an ominous phone call from a former colleague, saying they need to meet urgently. Kate has unfinished business of her own as she prepares to meet her estranged mother whose cruel treatment of Kate during childhood left her with chronic emotional issues. Both protagonists are prone to lengthy internal monologues, and the novel can feel a little uneven. That said, Norris, whose debut novel, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, received widespread praise, handles his themes – loneliness, ...