Returning by Francesca Suters

Australian womens fiction Francesca SutersReturning by Francesca Suters
RRP: From $10 for Kindle edition
Debut novel by Australian author
-Themes of spirituality, time travel and family ties
-Suitable for Young Adult market and older 
For information and stockists visit Francesca Suters

What would you change if you had your time over again?  It’s a question posed often in film and literature, inspiring many a time traveller story or dream sequence. It seems it’s part of human nature for us to try and balance out our regrets with the things we somehow know we needed to endure to make us the people we are. And if that last sentence seems convoluted, it’s got nothing on the layers involved in this multifaceted love story.

This is a tricky one to review without spoilers, but, in short, 29 year old Rita (married, two kids, sensible life) finds herself propelled back in time one New Year’s Day and must learn to live (again) as her 16 year old self. The premise sounds a bit like a 1980s body-swap comedy, but the light hearted moments are overlaid with a far deeper spiritual message.  Rather than simply ‘time travelling’, Rita is caught up in the complex process of ‘returning’ – somewhere between astral travelling and existing on multiple planes at once.  Her past, present and future selves are interconnected, yet operating independently, experiencing the same relationships at different points in time.  She leaves behind her beloved husband in one time frame, for example, only to re-encounter him as her new 16 year old squeeze.

Returning has some great moments of humour (how do you pretend not to know how to drive a car?) along with some tender dissections of the ways in which family relationships unfold over time.  Suters tackles the big issues of the human experience using Rita’s world as a microcosm;  how exactly do dreams, and God, and genealogy, and souls, and soul mates, and deja vu, fit together?  It is a little confusing in some places, but only in the same way that a good episode of Dr Who makes you bend your mind to the possibility of non-linear time.  This is probably my favourite type of writing, in fact – intelligently written without being so heavy that if feels like a chore to read it. It would suit a broad readership, including the ‘young adult’ market.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was left feeling that I’d said goodbye to a friend or two when I put it down. I still find myself wondering what the protagonists are up to beyond the end of Suters’ story.  This is a self-published book, but it’s one of the most polished I’ve seen in awhile. The writing is good and the editing tidy. Most importantly, the story is really fresh and the characters beautifully drawn. I can’t wait to see what Francesca does next.

This book review has been on my to-do list for weeks now and I’m so pleased I’ve finally found a space for it!  Returning is an impressive debut novel from Francesca, who’s already made a name for herself as an engaging blogger and avid contributor on social media.  You can read more from her at Francesca Writes Here and Francesca Suters Author, where you’ll also find a list of stockists for the book.

If you could revisit your life at 16, what would you do differently?

10 comments for “Returning by Francesca Suters

  1. Rita Azar
    June 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Great review Lara. On my TBR list. Hopefully I’ll get around to read it soon.

  2. June 14, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I am so keen to read this. It’s on my Kindle wishlist for when I finally finish the last game of Thrones book. Halfway through June and the only books I have read this year are Game of Thrones. When you only get to read a chapter before bed each night you can get through a regular size book ok but these 800-1000 page behemoths are killing me! In a good way though.
    P.S. The Fault in Our Stars showed up the other day and it is also on my TBR list, just waiting for me to get through GoT.

  3. Bernadette
    June 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I read Returning about 2 months ago and I’m already ready for a second read as I know there will be so much more in it the second time around! I cannot wait for the sequel, as I had that same feeling at the end. I kept thinking of Rita and if / how she returned to her babies. Or was she actually there all along?

  4. June 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I’ve read the book and loved it! I can’t wait for a “part 2” I have found myself day dreaming more than once since reading this book, imagining how I might have felt in Rita’s shoes. I strongly recommend it as a great read!

  5. June 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    OMG, I am writing a novel with the SAME concept but darker. I should read this book.

    • This Charming Mum
      June 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Yes. In fact you should read it anyway, lol. Good luck with your book. I have such admiration for people who have the patience to create a novel.

  6. June 13, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a wonderful review. I’m very proud of this book from a personal perspective, but having this response from a knowledgeable person such as yourself is just amazing. I’m so happy you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time to write this great review 🙂

    • This Charming Mum
      June 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

      My pleasure Francesca. Congratulations!

  7. June 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I have a copy at my bedside and have read the first two pages and then kids interrupted me – I plan to take it away when the hubby and I have a night off in month or so!!

    • This Charming Mum
      June 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

      I really struggle some weeks to find any quiet reading time but this is ideal for a ‘night off’ – thought provoking but not too heavy. I’m sure you’ll love it.

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