Coming Home by Lois Cloarec Hart
A love story between a younger woman and a late bloomer.
A friend of mine recommended Coming Home, one of her favorite lesbian books. I’m always interested in love stories between a younger woman and a late bloomer, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the unexpected twists the story takes.
To give you a better idea of the love triangle in Coming Home, let me introduce the three main characters of this rich and pleasing read: First, there is Terry Sanderson, who grew up in a loving family with four brothers. She recently finished her MA and took a job as a mail carrier in order to realize her dream of writing a novel. While making her everyday round, she meets Jan and Rob Spencer. From the very beginning, she’s quite taken with the couple.
Rob once was an athletic, charming pilot for the Canadian Air Force. Today he is wheelchair-bound, dealing with advanced MS. He has been steadfastly cared for by his wife, Jan, for many years.
Jan takes care of Rob almost 24/7. Meeting Terry gives her a chance to reconnect with the outside world. She needs a friend and is pleased that she and Terry have so much in common. It starts slowly, but the growing friendship between the three of them is at first a welcome addition in everybody’s life.
Terry invites the couple to family events, so readers will get to know the entire Sanderson clan. There is Emily, her mom, a resolute but caring mother of five children. Terry’s four brothers are extremely likeable, especially Jordy, who dreams of becoming a pediatrician instead of joining the family business. Then there’s competitive Matt, who seems to harbor a secret resentment toward his sister. These family dynamics make a nice counterpoint to the other relationships Terry has with her roommates, Claire and Michael, and her other friends.
Her family and friends recognize the undeniable attraction between Terry and Jan much sooner than Terry herself. Lois Cloarec Hart handled the growing relationship between Terry and Jan very delicately. It is bittersweet to see them falling in love. Jan begins to understand her new sexuality, but both refuse to betray Rob. They know their relationship can never go any further.
In this story, there were no easy answers for me as a reader.
Lois Cloarec Hart explains in her acknowledgments that she wrote Coming Home while her husband of 22 years was in the last stages of his battle with multiple sclerosis. Her wife-to-be was the editor assigned to work with her on Coming Home. While that part of the story isn’t autobiographic—her husband lost his battle with MS before she and her future wife ever met in person—knowing this elevates the book from a strong and likable love story to a touching story of somebody who will not abandon her first love even when she can’t ignore the feelings for a new powerful love.
Coming Home is an enjoyable read with a bittersweet and unique plot. I must admit I was in tears towards the end of the story. The book kept me reading and made it hard to stop. All characters are extremely well drawn. The slightly dark subject matter of the story is balanced nicely with so much humor and warmth that you can easily forget Rob’s fight against MS and the emotional triangle between the three main characters. Coming Home is a beautifully written story of two women who fall in love under unusual circumstances. It is a novel that defines the human spirit at its best.