Running Home by Lizzie Steel is not only one of the best self-published books I have ever read, it is also one of the best fiction books I have read in recent years; it has the quality of a traditionally-published book, and hopefully one day we will see it on bookstore shelves. The book’s varied plot elements are seamlessly tied together to make one complete and nuanced whole, a rarity in self-published literature. Running Home is a historical romance set in British colonial India, and tells the tale of forbidden love between an English Lady, Clara, and an Indian plantation owner, Sachin. Steel expertly deals with serious subjects—to include physical and sexual abuse as well as racism and bigotry—while crafting a compelling, heart-warming love story between two good-hearted characters.
Clara and Sachin, as well as Clara’s father, Lord Reynolds, share a kindness and a wisdom that is edifying for all. Their self-reflections and corresponding actions throughout the book elevate what could be a mere love story to a treatise on kindness, fairness, and social justice. After meeting Sachin and witnessing his care for others, Clara reflects, “I realised that I was in that privileged position, too. That simple revelation was empowering but daunting – what was I doing to help anyone?” The reader sees Clara’s natural instinct to do good grow into self-assured assistance to others and defense of her beliefs, especially to her bigoted mother. In Lord Reynolds, we see an example of a man who sees beyond social convention, and transmits that openness to his only child. His love for Clara surpasses all else, and his reflections on parenting really stuck with me: “You know, when you are a parents, it seems like every action you take and every decision you make moulds your child. Then one day they are grown up, and you realise it was their personality all along.”
I have tried above to point out some specific example of what makes Running Home worth reading, but the biggest endorsement, I think, is how I just could not stop reading! I was so absorbed in this book that I read it in one day – something that has not happened since I had my first child over four years ago. More compelling, even, is that I was so wrapped up in reading that I failed to notice my two and four year old children unpacking the ornaments and redecorating the Christmas tree… I have no idea how long I stood reading at the kitchen counter, but I can tell you: it was worth every minute of having to repack those Christmas decorations!
Please read Lizzie Steel’s Running Home – you’ll be glad you did!
***Thank you to Lizzie Steel, who provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.