How To Belong by Sarah Franklin – Book Review


In the follow up to her acclaimed novel Shelter, Sarah Franklin returns to the Forest of Dean, this time exploring what it means to belong to a rural community in a rapidly changing world.

Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.

Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.

Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.


How To Belong is about living in a rural community in the modern world.

It is the story of Jo who had left the beautiful Forest Of Dean to live and work in London. She comes home to stay with her parents for Christmas and learns they are retiring from the family business. She convinces them to let her take over and so she returns to this community.

She takes a room, lodging for the time being with Tessa. Tessa has had a troubled past and is a bit of a loner, but gradually the two women become friends. Jo begins to feel she’s at home.

This is a gentle, rolling tale of family, friends and what it is to feel at home, to finally belong. A book for the quiet times, to relax, settle in and enjoy.

Thank you to Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of How to Belong.


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