All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Take Me Home by Karly Lane

on May 24, 2021

Take Me Home
Karly Lane
Allen & Unwin
2021, 344p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}: When Elle Kinnaird takes the plunge and travels from her rural small-town life to the misty legends of her ancestors in the Scottish highlands, she finds that it’s a big world after all. A heartwarming novel about new beginnings, from the bestselling author of Fool Me Once.

It was a straightforward request. Take her gran home to her beloved Scotland.

In the space of a few days, Elle loses her job and her home and faces moving back in with her parents-where she knows she’ll hear a lot about how she is wasting her life, unlike her three siblings . . .

Then Gran’s will is read and everything changes.

It seems simple: a road trip across Scotland, a country Gran loved, to locate the family castle; meet some long lost cousins; oh, and work out what she wants to do with the rest of her life before returning home. Not a problem.

That is unless the family castle is a ruin that has pretty much been lost in time; the family Elle has never met seem to be hiding a mysterious secret; her over-achieving parents are breathing down her neck, and she’s running out of time to make a decision about her future.

Take Me Home is a glorious lesson in life, love and finding your true destiny.

There was a lot about this book that I really liked! It begins in rural, northern NSW just a short time after Elle Kinnard’s beloved grandmother passes away. Elle lived with her gran for the last few years, providing the necessary care and company that allowed her to remain in her own home. Elle has never really felt like she fits in with her family, full of degree-earning over achievers. She tried university but it wasn’t for her and now she avoids conversations with her mother, who constantly pushes her to return, to get a “real” job and not just the one she has at the local independent supermarket.

I really appreciated that this was an attempt to normalise not knowing what you want to do with your life. Elle is about 24, she’s tried uni doing something she didn’t love, to please her parents, and couldn’t finish it. She loves drawing and art, but her mother doesn’t see that as a viable career. Elle believes that she’s actually quite happy with her life, until her grandmother’s will requests that Elle return her ashes to her home in Scotland and provides the funds for Elle to do so.

I also loved the Scotland portion. I’m always drawn to books set or partially set in Scotland because a lot of my family (several generations back now) are from there and I also have the recessive red hair gene from those ancestors – much better suited to the highlands than to Australia’s much harsher climate! So I loved reading about Elle exploring Scotland, visiting castles and ruins and meeting members of her family that she barely knew existed. With her redhaired cousins, one of whom is very artistic, Elle actually finally feels like she might belong somewhere. She connects to them much better than she does her own family, with their busy lives and clever jobs. And then she meets Stuart, a lawyer turned farmer and well, the sparks fly. Despite the fact that she’s supposed to be finishing up her holiday/chore and heading back to Australia soon, Elle finds herself questioning the reasoning. There’s nothing waiting for her in Australia – no job, casual or otherwise. Just her mother trying to talk her into university courses and getting a real job and “growing up” and being responsible in order to one day take care of the family she will have.

I also loved the story of Elle’s gran, which is woven into her journey to Scotland. Her gran came to Australia as a teenager and until going to Scotland, Elle was completely unaware of the circumstances surrounding why she’d left her home. Her gran’s sister Moira is still alive, although has dementia and fades in and out of lucidity and mistakes Elle for her gran once or twice, dropping hints about some of the tragedy behind her gran’s leaving. All of those portions of the novel were fantastic (except the way some of the information is imparted, more on that below), I enjoyed them immensely and I liked Elle, as well as her family in Scotland. I felt like in leaving, she might’ve finally found a place where she could fit in and the longer she spent there, the more she seemed to realise things about herself and finally, grow in confidence regarding her art, that it could be more than just a hobby.

But. There were a few things that didn’t work for me with this book and it’s just personal preference really – there’s a pretty strong supernatural element in this and I’m just too much of a skeptic to be honest, to really enjoy that portion of it and often it felt quite intrusive in the plot. Especially when Elle would forget her surroundings and talk out loud, making people near her think she was a bit unstable. Probably played for laughs, but for me it was just a bit embarrassing/awkward. Also it’s to be expected I suppose, but this book references Outlander a lot. Like an awful lot. And I know they’re in Scotland, which is the setting for Outlander and there’s a successful TV series and all that jazz but….if you haven’t read the book (or like me, don’t like it) it ends up taking up quite a bit of page space as the characters reference it over and over again. I’d probably feel the same way about anything that was referenced that much in a book, I wish I’d counted them because it feels like an awfully high amount of mentions and yes, it’s Scotland, I know. But Scotland is much more than just references to this one book/TV show.

Look, those are two small things but honestly they were enough to affect my immersion in the story a little. I still really enjoyed this but it didn’t end up on my favourites list.


Book #81 of 2021

Take Me Home is book #34 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2021

One response to “Review: Take Me Home by Karly Lane

  1. Lily Malone says:

    I could never do Outlander either…

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