Full Text of Review:

I am writing this now with tears rolling down my face as I have just finished the last sentence of this beautifully heartbreaking story. There are so many stunning components in this novel that combine to make it truly spectacular – the rich detail of both past and present, the compelling characters that you long to help, and the depth of emotion that will make you ache, naming just a few.

It is the First World War and Jessica Brown’s life can be neatly split into two parts – before the war when she was blissfully happy, growing up surrounded by the love of her parents and her little brother with little to worry her, and life since the war began, changing everything for her in the harshest of ways. But even during this desolate time, tiny fragments of happiness begin to shine through, but can they last…

In the present day, Sam Foster’s life is turned upside down when her father is involved in a serious accident. Terrified of what the future may hold, Sam struggles to remain calm, and to make things more complicated, she keeps finding herself slipping into the dreams of another person’s life and memories without her control. With fear for her father and what is happening to herself, can Sam find a way to figure out what these messages are trying to tell her?

WE’VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME by Susan Gandar is a thought-provoking story of love, despair, and hope, and I read this book in two hours as I could not put it down. The harsh reality of war, poverty, and life at that time for so many, is effortlessly woven into this tale, and my eyes teared up as the descriptive narrative made it all come alive. And the last line left me blubbering like a baby!
All of the characters are expertly crafted but Jessica was by far my favourite character as her strength and spirit shone through in every situation. 

WE’VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME by Susan Gandar is an excellent story, full of depth and emotion, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

We’ve Come to Take You Home is a poignant read about family, history, war and reconnecting with your past to form your future. I had no idea of what to expect when I started to read this debut novel. Was it a love story? An historical read? The genre I find very hard to define, even now once I have read it, but I loved this book for its ghostly themes of love and the past,  and strong female characters who both eloquently told their stories.

We’ve Come to Take You Home tells the story of two women, four generations apart. Although the stories appear to be separate, as I progressed through the book I realised that the two stories were linked in some way. Jess is living through the hardship of the First World War. Her father has been recently deployed and she needs to help support her mother and new baby brother. The depictions of war are harrowing and brutally honest. When Jess is forced to move to London to work as a maid of all jobs, my heart ached for her. She was thankful for a roof over her head and food in her belly, but at what cost? Was she truly living life?

We also read Sam’s story, which is just as moving as Jess’s, although in an entirely different way, there are similarities to what they are both going through. They are both young, they are having to adjust to life without a father, and they are both mature beyond their years. She lives in the present day with her mother and pilot dad. She has always seen things, people, that are not really there, and as we read her story , she shares with us the fact that she sees images of war. She sees war nurses attending the sick, the bombed out fields and the sick and dying soldiers. This happens to her without warning, she is simply sucked back in time, living via another person. This is obviously terrifying, but she keeps what she believes are visions to herself, as who would believe her? She has no idea why she sees such images, and neither do we.

This is such a clever story, and on paper you would think it could not possibly work. But, it does. Through both Sam and Jess we learn about what it must have been like for a normal, working class family to live through the hardship of war. Although this is the primary story, we also have Sam’s struggle, in her trying to reunite her broken family. Her father is a pilot, and on the day that he leaves the family home, he is involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma. Sam has to deal with her father’s critical condition, as well as having to learn to cope with the evolving relationship with her mother.

This is a deeply moving book about the horrors of war, about family and of the important bond between father and daughter. It is beautifully written and the ending couldn’t have happened any other way. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to reading more work by Susan Gandar

Book Review – We’ve Come to Take You Home by Susan Gandar

When I read the description for We’ve Come to Take You Home, I knew this was a book I wanted to read and I’m so grateful to Susan Gandar for sending me a copy in return for my review. After a brief but disturbing prologue the book opens in a familiar setting with a group of teenage girls meeting boys at a funfair, however, that rapidly changes when one of the girls, Sam experiences what can perhaps be best described as a time slip, and finds herself  on a platform of a station in the past. These episodes occur throughout the book and Sam is much more than an observer as she sees what is happening through the eyes of the person involved. She is understandably confused and at this point so are we, this is a book that very gradually reveals the truth. After being introduced to Sam, the third person narrative switches to Jess, another teenage girl but one who is actually living in 1914. War has not long broken out and young men are being recruited to fight in a war they are told will be over by Christmas. With our benefit of hindsight of course we know that many of the men eagerly signing up are destined to never return or to come back irrevocably changed.

The chapters throughout the book switch between the two girls, separated by a century but somehow linked. Jess’ story is so evocatively told, it’s a poignant and bittersweet coming of age story and also a sharp reminder of the social inequalities that were still rife during that time. Her family are desperately poor and cruelly affected by the war. The village they live in is terribly poverty stricken, something we perhaps forget when we look back on that time.
Sam’s story doesn’t have the same desperate tragedy but is still an immersive look at a modern family who are experiencing their own trauma. Whilst the chapters featuring Jess are perhaps the more obviously heartrending, Sam’s life is touchingly and empathetically followed. She may not experience the same dangers as Jess but she is still affected by dramatic and life-changing events that she needs to come to turns with. Both girls are forced to make brave decisions and in many ways we are reminded that no matter the circumstances love, fear, hope and grief affect us all.  Dying is a constant theme throughout too, the horrors of war obviously but also more subtly, the quiet losses, the need to face up to and accept death. Ultimately it’s a book about family, the ties that bind us and link us to the past.
I was so moved by this book, the mystery at the heart of it is beautifully and intricately explained. I really appreciated too that the reason for the bond between the two girls is something special, without giving anything away this book celebrates being different and accepting those differences. The characters are subtly and sympathetically brought to life, the switching narrative never less than compelling. I read it in a single setting as I was unable to tear myself away from this intelligent, thoughtful and cleverly plotted book. I knew it would be a book I would enjoy, I didn’t realise it would be a novel that would touch me so deeply. I thoroughly recommend it.

We’ve Come to Take You Home Review


This debut takes us into the lives of two 15-year-old girls: Sam Foster, who lives in modern-day England, and Jess Brown, who lived during the Great War. The lives of the two girls become entwined when Sam begins to remember and experience Jess’s life.

While Sam is dealing with the usual angst of a modern teen, her father becomes hospitalized, and her time-slips become more intense. Jess is coping with the hardships and losses of the war. The author does a great job of planting the reader in the gore, horror and sadness of WWI. People suffered on the Home Front, too, Jess’s family in particular undergoing wrenching hardship. Jess copes by reluctantly stealing bread, and is eventually sent by her mother to the city to become a maid of all work. While there, she falls in love and the consequences of her love story set up the situation into which Sam is drawn.

Given the premise of a modern girl finding herself in the life of someone who lived one hundred years before, I expected a great novel. And there are scenes that are very moving. However, at times over-description took me out of the flow of the story. In one scene, “She [Sam] pulled open the front door, ran down the steps, down the path, through the gate and out onto the pavement.” Another time, describing Sam’s favorite place, the author lists every point of interest. That much description was too much for me. However, with Ms. Gandar’s background in television, I can see how a camera would catch those details.

Be sure to pay attention so that the ending will make sense. I was expecting something more profound to have put the two girls together and was left feeling let down, although I admit I did cry.

My Review of We’ve Come To Take You Home

Two young women, Jess and Sam, live a century apart and yet are joined in ways they can’t possibly imagine.

Although We’ve Come To Take You Home has been sitting on my TBR pile for about a year, I hadn’t had chance to look at it in detail so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I found was a time slip novel that had me entranced throughout. I don’t always enjoy this kind of structure but I found the overlaps, Sam’s hallucinatory visions and the echoes of the past all so well written that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I really enjoyed the characterisation and although I felt more empathy towards Jess, I thought both women were warm and realistic people whom I cared about.

Susan Gandar has an evocative turn of phrase so that it was easy to visualise the grand house Jess finds herself in, the hospital setting and the horrors of the First World War. I thought history was brought to life highly effectively and vividly so that We’ve Come To Take You Home would definitely appeal to lovers of historical fiction.

However, We’ve Come To Take You Home is so much more than just an historical novel. There are many layers so that there really is something for every reader through the sociological and spiritual elements, the family relationships and our perception of what is true or imagined. I found that not only was I presented with an intriguing plot, but with some challenging concepts that made me question my own views. I’m not especially spiritual but I was very entertained by those aspects in the novel and let’s just say that next time I’m at an airport I shall scrutinise the departure boards very carefully!

We’ve Come To Take You Home is a hugely satisfying read. It made me think, it entertained and educated me and it took me away from the writing I usually read. Ultimately, I found We’ve Come To Take You Home an uplifting read. Great stuff.

Check out Mark’s book The Gift Maker HERE

Check out Anna’s excellent debut novel’Walking Wounded’ here

Sam expected to see the lights on the promenade twinkling off into the distance, the wings of the angel statue silhouetted against the moonlit sky, the cliffs standing sentinel at either end of the town.

But what she expected no longer existed’

We’ve Come To Take You Home is the debut novel from Susan Gandar. Published by Matador in 2016, it is a novel spanning generations, a book of historical fiction with a dual timeline.

Quite a fascinating and poignant read…please read on for my thoughts..

Samantha Foster and Jessica Brown are destined to meet. One lives in the twentieth century, the other in the twenty-first century

April 1916 and thousands of men have left home to fight in the war to end all wars. Jessica Brown’s father is about to be one of those men. A year later, he is still alive but Jess has to steal to keep her family from starving. And then a telegram arrives – her father has been killed in action.

Four generations later, Sam Foster’s father is admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit with a suspected brain haemorrhage. A nurse asks if she would like to take her father’s hand. Sam refuses. All she wants is to get out of this place, stuck between the world of the living and the world of the dead, a place with no hope and no future, as quickly as possible.

As Sam’s father’s condition worsens, her dreams become more frequent – and more frightening. She realises that what she is experiencing is not a dream, but someone else’s living nightmare…

I started and finished this book in one day which says a lot about how I feel about Susan Gandar’s writing.

I was very lucky to have Susan join me a few weeks back with an extremely emotional and very personal guest post relating to the importance of organ donation which you can read HERE

Since then I have been looking at Susan’s book in my ‘To-Be-Read’ pile and decided this week to finally sit down and read it, which I am now very glad I did.

We’ve Come To Take You Home is a very unusual story with a rather ‘other worldly’ twist.

April 1916 ~ Jessica Brown’s father leaves to fight in the trenches of World War 1. With descriptions reminiscent of Sebastian Faulks Birdsong, tears came to my eyes as I felt like I was reliving a time that no one should ever forget.

The sea of mud wasn’t that at all. It was a sea of blood and bones. There were arms, legs, heads and hands, layer upon layer of them. And the blood and the bones weren’t all dead. Some were alive and still suffering. Their cries rose up all around her’

Jessica and her family suffer the effects of deprivation associated with war. Food shortages, no fuel, dark cold winters and no sign of this nightmare coming to an end.

Jessica, with the assistance of her mother finds work in a big house in London and through Jessica’s eyes we hear and feel the sounds of the city

Cars and horses pulling carts, and strange looking things which looked like very tall cars…and she’d never heard so much noise…iron-shod wheels going over stone cobbles made enough noise to waken the dead’

Jessica begins a solitary journey as a general servant in a house that has seen the devastation that war can bring. A fast learner, Jessica soon settles down to a routine, albeit a very difficult one. As time passes, Jessica adapts to life in London as the war continues, but circumstances lead Jessica down a very unexpected and tragic path.

Through Susan Gandar’s style of writing, you feel you are journeying with Jessica. Every smile, every tear shed stays with you.

Meanwhile, Sam Foster is living a very different life over 100 years later. Residing in a household that is struggling with problems, Sam feels stuck between her parents rows. Her Dad, a pilot, is away quite often and Sam’s mother is unable to cope with his continuous absences.

Growing up an only child, Sam had always sought the company of her imaginary friends. Her parents were concerned when she was younger, but as the years moved on, Sam no longer felt the presence of her special friends.

An accident involving her Dad results in Sam’s life changing forever.

The story of Sam and Jessica is beautiful. Two girls in two different centuries become intertwined as this book unravels it’s secrets.

The reader is sensitively transported from the trenches of World War 1 to the wards of a modern day hospital.

We’ve Come To Take You Home is a very poignant and beautiful read about discovering past secrets and finding yourself along the way.

I really enjoyed Susan’s book and look forward to her next novel which I have no doubt will be just as special.

Just a quick mention about the cover – it is so very striking. It portrays the trenches of the war with the red of the poppy flowers peeking out, as a young girl’s head is lowered in obvious grief. It definitely catches the eye of the prospective reader.