Suzanne has come to Billicombe, a faded English resort town on the Bristol Channel, for one simple reason: to find her adored older brother. A recovering addict, Jax had moved to Billicombe after completing rehab, but it’s been six months since Suzanne last heard from him. Her search, however, turns out to be anything but simple. For one thing, Suzanne is a former child actress, well known for her role on a long-running TV series, and she needs to avoid being recognized while exploring Billicombe’s seamy underside. For another, Richard, a local man Suzanne turns to for help, has problems of his own stemming from a car accident that cost him much of his memory. Suzanne’s quest for Jax and Richard’s attempt to put his life back together collide in ways neither could have expected.
Genre: family drama, emotional, couldn’t put down, adult
Rating: 5 wings
(This book was one of my top reads of last year! Circumstances have stopped me publishing the review until now 😦 )
I was initially drawn to this book as it is set in my home county of Devon and the author sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
However the picture Sherry Chiger portrays of Devon is not the rolling hills of countryside and seaside towns that people see on postcards. In ‘Beyond Billicombe’ the reader witnesses the dark side of a small town, the heavy drinking, homelessness and drug-taking. These are all issues the author deals with explicitly but she does not condone or glorify them; she is both sensitive and honest.
The story is about American soap actress Suzie who has to travel to Billicombe to search for her brother Jax. He is a drug-addict who she sent to England for rehabilitation but he escaped to Devon, where she presumed he was clean, working and safe, until one day he disappeared without a trace. In Billicombe she befriends Richard, who has his own issues, having recently been involved in a car accident, and now he suffers regular and severe memory loss. However somehow there is a spark of friendship between them and they realise that their stories intertwine.
Sherry Chiger’s character’s are so strong and full of presence I would expect to see them walking down my road, which is an example of her past in Devon. However, I had not expected the journey of this book to make me feel so raw and emotional. I genuinely felt connected with Suzie during her search for Jax and the final chapters were surprising and I wish I had been more prepared!
I highly recommend this beautifully written book but it is not an easy read and should not be taken lightly.