Far From Home by Lorelie Brown is a marriage of convenience story that blew me away. Told through the eyes of someone living with anorexia nervosa, it balances a beautiful romance with a bold storytelling choice, making it one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Rachel Fizel is at a party when she tells Pari Sadashiv she’d marry her to help her stay in the United States. After a dinner and discussion, they realize they really can help each other out—Pari needs a green card so she can quit her job and become an independent consultant and Rachel is drowning in student debt, so not paying for living expenses would be a godsend.
Rachel has told Pari about her anorexia and the steps she’s taken to live in recovery, but the negative thoughts keep creeping in and her coping mechanisms aren’t working as well anymore. Despite the way she feels about her own body, she finds Pari’s curves beautiful, and the more she gets to know her, the more Rachel sees she’s drawn to a woman for the first time in her life.
Pari was my favourite. She’s driven in her career, yet is also kind, considerate and observant with Rachel, and clearly cares for her family. Her loving relationships with her family members is in stark contrast to Rachel’s cold relationship with her own mother. Rachel is interesting and well drawn, but I’ll say more about her in the next section, because I can’t talk about her separately from how the book is written.
The side characters in Far From Home are rich and interesting. Pari’s mother, Niharika, was a standout for me, torn between being supportive of her daughter and wanting to uphold her traditions from India. I also enjoyed Rachel’s best friend, Nikki, and hope she shows up in later books in this series.
The Writing Style
Far From Home is so well written that I haven’t stopped thinking about it in the week since I finished, and it’s been ruining me for other books ever since. It’s told in the first person from Rachel’s perspective, and her illness colours her impressions of Pari, even as we see Pari’s true intentions through her words and actions.
The relationship development is careful, emotional, and beautiful, with Pari and Rachel equally aware that this is Rachel’s first time not only being in a relationship with a woman, but even being attracted to one. They build slowly from acquaintances to friends to lovers, each growing to care for the other in a way that left my heart happy at the end. There’s also a sex scene that’s, well, just… damn.
I first read and reviewed this book when it came out a few years ago, and, as you can see from the rest of this review, it knocked my freaking socks off. I’ve been raving about it ever since, recommending it to anyone who will listen, especially if someone is looking for excellent fake relationship or first-person stories.
So, when Sheena asked me if I wanted to check out the audiobook and said Jill Smith is the narrator? I was over the moon. I knew it would be good, because Jill Smith rapidly became one of my favourite narrators and I’ve been crushing on her voice acting for a while thanks to the way she brought Tamsen Parker’s In Her Court and If I Loved You Less to life.
And guess what? Far From Home was EVEN BETTER in audio than I thought it would be. Listening to it didn’t feel like someone was reading me a story, it felt like Rachel was telling me her story. I have zero clue how accurate the Indian accents were for Pari and her family, so I can’t really speak to that, but I did find myself sinking in to everything, sneaking in listening time whenever I could. I can’t recommend the audiobook enough and I’ll be listening to it again.
I want to be lazy and say “everything,” but I won’t. The biggest pro, by far, is what I covered in the last section. Writing through the lens of an illness and doing it this well is something I’ve only ever seen once, and that was in literary fiction. To build such a great, believable romance too? Colour me impressed.
I’ll never be able to read Far From Home again for the first time.
Far From Home is an incredible romance and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m excited that it’s the first in a new series and can’t wait to read the next story.
Excerpt from Far From Home by Lorelie Brown
We find a small cushioned bench behind a curtained nook. Dirty, naughty, wrong things have happened here. I know it as I lean against the satin cushions. My toes tingle. I sit and tuck my feet up under my butt, knees pointing to one side. Pari sits at the other end of the couch, but she doesn’t settle in. She waves down a new waitress and orders us another round of drinks plus a basket of french fries.
My mouth waters. God, I have such problems. I decide I’ll have ten fries. That’s a reasonable amount without denying myself. At least I’m not having daiquiris, even though I miss them desperately.
When the fries show up, they’re in a tiny shopping cart sized just right for a Barbie. I laugh as I take one. “This is ridiculous!”
Pari puts two fingers on the miniature red bar and pushes it across the plate between the dishes of ketchup and mustard. “Just a few potatoes to pick up.”
“Okay, you’re ridiculous.”
“It’s got wheels! It’s meant to be pushed.” We’re both dying of laughter.
We melt into each other, shoulder against shoulder. I like contact. I like contact with her.
I think I’m drunk.
She kisses me.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626494510
- Publisher: Riptide Publishing
- Audiobook Publisher: Riptide Publishing
- Narrator: Jill Smith
Lorelei Brown Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of Far From Home by Lorelei Brown. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.