About a year ago, Ellen’s husband Nick died in a car crash, which, of course, changed the lives of Ellen and their son. Those changes have manifested themselves differently in Ellen and Charlie; Ellen doesn’t go out while Charlie only eats the foods he ate the day Nick died. Because the insurance company determined Nick to be at fault, there’s no payout and Ellen desperately needs money to keep the house. Ellen is surprised to learn that not only is there no insurance money, but Nick had kept secret the financial trouble his business experienced (and that’s not the only secret he had!). The sister Ellen has an iffy relationship with suggests renting rooms in the house; Hannah will even find the people to save Ellen the trouble. The three lodgers are quite varied and bring a liveliness to a house filled with unhappiness.
Although Nick’s secret wasn’t what I thought it would be, when it was revealed it seemed a little expected. (Oddly, it seemed Coleman was hinting that Nick’s secret would have to do with his death, which it didn’t.) To address any of the reasons why would be a complete spoiler, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that while The Home for Broken Hearts is well-written and has many interesting aspects, the secret is a big ol’ cliché.
Despite the cliché (which thankfully comes toward the end), I enjoyed the book. Each character really came to life, especially Ellen and two of the renters: Allegra (one of Ellen’s favorite romance novelists) and Matt (an attractive younger lads’ mag columnist). One character who really intrigued me was the one never met: Nick. The three who knew him (wife, son, and sister-in-law) view Nick through their grief while the three tenants hear something different in the “he was wonderful” stories. Even before Allegra shared her thoughts on Nick, I’d been leaning that way too; it pleased me that someone else heard the same stories and didn’t think Nick was such a catch after all.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.