Homeward Bound

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Pub Date 28 Jan 2020 | Archive Date 01 Jul 2020

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George is a recently widowed seventy-nine-year-old. He nearly made it as a rock star in the 1960s and he’s not happy. Tara is his teenage granddaughter and she’s taken refuge from her bickering parents by living with George. Toby is George’s son-in-law and he wants George in a care home. 

George has two secrets. 1) He’s never revealed why his music career stalled. And 2) No-one knows just how much the disappointment of opportunities missed still gnaw at him. He craves one last chance, even at his age. When it presents itself, through the appearance of a long-lost distant relative - whose chequered past should set alarm bells ringing - he can’t resist. 

For Tara, living with her grandfather is a way to find her own path and develop her own musical ambitions. She isn’t prepared for the clash between different generations and living in a strange house full of her grandfather’s memories – and vinyl records.

They get off to a shaky start. George takes an instant dislike to the sounds from her bedroom that seem more suited to Guantanamo Bay than anything he would call musical. But as time plays out, they find there are more similarities – neither know how to operate a dishwasher – than differences, and parallels across the generations slowly bring them to recognise their shared strengths. But when Toby inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events, it leaves Tara with the same dilemma her grandfather faced five decades before with the same life-changing choice to make.

George is a recently widowed seventy-nine-year-old. He nearly made it as a rock star in the 1960s and he’s not happy. Tara is his teenage granddaughter and she’s taken refuge from her bickering...

A Note From the Publisher

Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials with subjects as varied as bananas in Cameroon, oil from the North Sea, fighting organised crime and caring for older people. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials with subjects as varied as bananas in Cameroon, oil from the North Sea, fighting organised crime and caring for older...

Advance Praise

"Once you have started reading this book it's hard to put down. It's an excellent first novel with some great music references and some important messages- not least , the close relationship between two people from very different generations who have a lot more in common than they might think and the importance of having a purpose in life and taking a few risks to follow your dreams. Looking forward to the next one!" - Amazon review

"An enjoyable read that reminds us of the passing of time and the value of family" - Family Tree Magazine

"Once you have started reading this book it's hard to put down. It's an excellent first novel with some great music references and some important messages- not least , the close relationship between...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781838598068
PRICE $4.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

What a treat. I started reading before looking up the author bio and was already hooked. THEN I learned Richard Smith was trying his hand at his first novel at 70 years old. Bravo sir. What a touching story that bridges the gaps of generations and tied together by love of music. The relationships between grandfather/granddaughter, mother/daughter, father/daughter were very real and well developed. The ending made my heart extremely happy and overall was a great, easy read.

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The story centres about 79 year old George Turnbull, who we meet as he is being brought around (reluctantly...) an old folks home by his daughter and son in law. After just having lost his wife suddenly and lamenting a lost career in music, this is the last place he wants to be.

George and his granddaughter Tara strike a deal, he doesn't want to live with his awful son in law and Tara needs a place to stay in London, so Tara moves in to her grandfather's house, doddery old dog and all.

The relationships between the characters are so pure and realistic. Smith writes a glorious character, you root for them, you feel sad for them, you want them to get what's coming. I felt so apart of the family, I felt like I was living in George's house!

The music that is woven through is also a great touch, for anyone that enjoys music you will LOVE this book. I particularly liked the juxtaposition between George and Tara's boyfriend, Mark. George was a musician (and still is...) and has been there and done that, worn the t-shirt, while Mark is starting out in his music career and specialises in 'psychedelic rap' which George does not get! However, they come to a mutual appreciation and it's gorgeous.

I had tears brimming in my eyes for the last 20% of the book - it was so real and emotive. I loved George and Tara's character. Their relationship was beautiful and I felt unbridled joy through a lot of the book, it was just so sweet.

I can't begin to tell you how much this book made me feel, it really is a special one.

A huge 4.5 stars from me and a plea for all to curl up with a hot drink and read this gorgeous hug of a book!

Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I fell in love with George and his family and really felt engrossed while following his story in the present and hearing his stories from the past.

This book primarily follows George, an elderly man whose wide has recently past away. After a few months of living with his daughter, Bridget, she finally lets George return to his own residence in London where his granddaughter, Tara, lives with him while she studies at university. While reading, you learn lots about George's love and passion for music. Tara, on the other hand, is studying history and is very much living in the modern day. Her boyfriend, Mark, is also into music, however, his style is a lot more modern and not quite to George's taste.

I really loved reading this, mostly because I felt so connected and involved in all the situations the family got into. I really felt like I was going on George's journey with him, as well as Tara and Bridget along the way. I wish I could play the piano just like George can and this book has inspired me to start playing again. This books is brilliant and is well worth the journey.

My review can be read on my blog on Wednesday 6th May 2020.

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What a lovely book! I loved the playlist that came with it too.

I was completely invested in George's story and his life, and wanted to protect him in the early stages of the story and cheered for him later on. There were lots of heart warming moments and even tears too!
I enjoyed the realistic depiction of family relationships, the characters I was supposed to love I adored - and the awful ones I despised which is always a sign of a good book and fantastic writing.

It was a heartwarming but often sad reminder of what it must be like to get older and look back at your life and have regrets about missed opportunities but remained hopeful as characters found a new purpose. I loved how music is such a big feature of the story and depicts how powerful it can be, both individually and on others!
The ending was bittersweet but one that left me satisfied.

Wish I could read it all over again! If this book was a song, I would play it every day.

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CW: domestic abuse
Homeward Bound was the sometimes sweet, sometimes heart wrenching, often both story of an aging musician and his family as they all try to make peace with his aging, his love for music after all these years, and all the messy aspects of family. The pacing was at times a bit slow and it wasn't necessarily what I would usually read, but the struggles of taking care of aging family members is relatable enough to anyone that despite that, I enjoyed this.

From the blurb, I thought it would deal more with just the relationship between Tara, the granddaughter, and George, the aging musician. Instead, it was about the family as a whole, as well as some romantic partners I do still wish it had been more about the two of them, but there were some lovely things about chosen families - though it that wasn't explicitly stated - as Tara's father leaves for mistreating his wife and her boyfriend, Mark, steps up unexpectedly. No one's really great in this, they all do pretty dubious things and are often selfish, but they do paint a pretty accurate picture of a family. How realistic the characters are written is part of what makes many scenes of this so painful to write and it's very well executed.

The ending is about as bittersweet as you'd expect from something like this, but I was pretty happy with it. It went more or less how I expected, but I'm glad for that. No need for big shock endings in something like this.

Overall, I'd give this a solid four stars. I do think slightly better pacing could have improved it, but I also think that might just be the sort of story the author was wanting to tell. Life, especially in its advanced stages, is awkwardly paced, after all. The accompanying Spotify playlist is a nice touch. I'm sure anyone into music and complex family relationships would enjoy this.

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A great story.... at first it was hard to get into but soon I was hooked! Great novel! It had a realness to life’s struggles.

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I first thought that it was so cute that a 79-year-old man had wanted a second chance as a rockstar. This novel takes us to the home of George, and his granddaughter that has taken refuge from her always arguing parents. Tara and George didn't have the best interactions at the beginning, however, they began to bond and share their love of music. It was all so cute.

I highly recommend this book to those who love sweet, platonic relationships and amazing writing.

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George is nearly 80, his daughter wants him to move to an old folks home, but he believes he's too young, he can cope, and he has his music. He has been a musician all his life, but never made it to the big time. A solution is reached whereby his granddaughter Tara moves in with him while she is at university.

Thus the stage is set for a lovely tale of family, generational differences, deceit, and lots and lots of music. The ending is perhaps a little trite, but it is a lovely story, which sweeps the reader in to George's world. The reader becomes frustrated as it is clear not everyone is behaving honourably, and you can't wait to read what will happen next.

Well written, entertaining and very enjoyable.

Thank you to NetGalley, Troubador Publishing Ltd and Matador for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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“’Do I have to stop loving music because I’m old and decrepit? I didn’t stop loving music when the sixties ended. The decade, or mine. Nothing’s new. Things get changed, sometimes improved.’ He paused before adding ruefully, ‘But not often.’ He sighed.”

Homeward Bound is the first novel by British author, Richard Smith. Newly widowed at seventy-nine, George Turnbull represents a problem for his son-in-law, Toby Waller. The solution is, of course to sell George’s London house and put him in a care home. George’s daughter Bridget is unenthusiastic about this idea, while George refuses point blank to consider it. After all, no care home would accommodate his piano or his extensive record collection.

His eighteen-year-old granddaughter, Tara is heading off to uni in London and needs a place to live, but she is hesitant about sharing with her boyfriend, Mark. Is it the ideal solution? Would a uni student doing her course and having a social life be available to keep a subtle eye on her grandfather, who is getting frailer, even if he doesn’t like to admit it? Might they muddle through together?

George loves nothing better than to sit in his special music room, surrounded by his vinyl, revelling in the sleeve notes and the sound. Playing his piano, too, is important: he is working on a song inspired by his wife. “Missing Evelyn” could be the hit song he never had in his career as support act for more famous groups. Now sustained by composing production music, a hit at his age would certainly wipe the smirk off his sneering son-in-law’s face.

Tara introduces Mark, whose idea of good music is his own: “Old-lampin, ghetto-grittin’, steelo dealo pimped-out mamma-jamma scratch”. When George hears it: “It was not ‘music’ by any definition George was familiar with. He instinctively put his hands over his ears and imagined inmates of Guantanamo Bay facing similar barrages of torturous noise”.

But when Mark sees George’s music room, he is very interested in George's collection, although apparently only for the resale value. And then Robin turns up. Had been referred to as Robbin’. Bridget definitely isn’t ready to forgive and forget, although Toby doesn’t seem to share her ire. Is this untrustworthy in-law there to target an old man’s most fervent desire?

What a wonderful tale Richard Smith gives the reader. His characters are endearing for all their flaws and foibles, and if the plot seems to be heading in a predictable direction, there are some heart-warming surprises on the way too. As well as touching on the dilemma of aged care, the story explores the balance between family obligation and following one’s dream.

Included are some interesting musical tidbits and a generous dose of musical nostalgia that can be indulged with the Spotify playlist that the author provides. Yes, the title does refer to the song by Paul Simon, and there are surely many things worse than a Simon and Garfunkel earworm, if that’s the result. This is a brilliant debut novel, moving and uplifting, and Smith’s next work will be eagerly awaited.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Troubador Publishing.

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Wonderful absolutely wonderful and I wish I'd read sooner. I love everything about this book and would highly recommend it to everyone.

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A great summer read. Heart warming and funny in places, very enjoyable.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.

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Sweet and realistic story about multigenerational family members learning to live and grow together. Mutual needs bring eccentric 79 year old George and his college-age granddaughter Tara together under the same roof. After the initial getting used to one another, they discover a mutual love of music—for George a lifetime passion/obsession and for Tara a newly discovered talent. As George's health declines, Tara has to face some very grown up situations and choices between her loyalty to being there for her "Gramps" and opportunities to further her budding career.

Extremely well written and readable, anyone who is an elder or has dealt with elder care will identify with the characters and situations.

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I really enjoyed this book and can’t believe how many similarities to my own life there were in these pages!

George Turnball is 79 years old and he has no intention of moving into a care home. His grandaughter Tara is about to start university and she needs a place to live, not quite ready to move in with her boyfriend Mark. The family are keen to move George out but as a happy compromise, Tara agrees to move in with her grandfather, giving him the support he needs without letting him lose his independence, plus it gives Tara the chance to find her own feet as an adult too.

As you may already have noticed, this book has borrowed its title from Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 hit, ‘Homeward Bound’. There is a strong musical theme throughout this book and it’s full of names, singles and albums that I fondly remember from growing up with a very musical father. Just like George, my dad has a vast collection of music and I really felt able to connect with the story because of this. If you’re not familiar with any music from the 60s and 70s, some of these references may go over your head, but I definitely wouldn’t let that put you off, this is a book for all ages! If you’re interested in the music covered in this book, the author has put together a Spotify playlist that includes them all and I’d definitely recommend you check it out.

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This book was so good for my soul. I loved this sweet relationship between Tara and George. It was so pure and filled with live. I loved watching them truly form a bond and be respectful to each other even if they didn't agree. This book has me laughing and crying and was a much needed heart warmer.

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You will very quickly fall in love with Gramps and you'll be furious for him most of the book. This was a solid read with great characters who'll make you feeling something. Be it love, anger, or loyalty.

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