The Locked Away Life – Drew Davies

Published By: Bookouture
Pages; 326
Released On: 04/08/2022

At the grand old age of eighty-two, Esther Saul has just one regret in life.

Since her heart got blown to smithereens decades ago, Esther has never been the same. She has barricaded herself in a vine-covered manor house, on top of a hill and far away from the villagers and their whispers. But now, as spring sunshine dawns a new day, Esther must unlock her doors…

It’s time to solve the mystery that has haunted her for more than forty years – before it’s too late. If Esther is to track down the love of her life, the handsome Scottish man with a devilish smile and piercing blues who brought her world crashing down, she’ll need some assistance.

That’s where Bruno comes in. After Esther places an advert in the local library, seeking internet lessons, the teenage boy knocks on her door.

As their worlds collide, and a friendship forms between the two strangers, it’s the beginning of an unexpected journey – one that will uncover the past, pave the way for the future, and allow a locked-away life to finally start living.


Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I thought Bruno and Esther were wonderful characters, they’re so well written and they play so well off each other. For me, the rest of the cast were incidental, surplus; they helped move the story along but for me, this was only about Bruno and Esther.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I don’t mean that in a negative way though. Initially, having seen the cover and read the blurb, I thought it would be one of those light, joyful, happily-ever-after type books that you smile throughout. But it’s not that at all. Sure, there are joyful bits and happy bits and smiley bits, but it was a lot tougher than expected. It is quite a serious book with serious topics, morals and questions. Still very good and enjoyable, but it didn’t match the mood I was expecting from it.

I really liked the subtlety of how the serious topics were handled – sexuality, grief, illness, mental health, abandonment, ageing, loneliness. They’re important themes in the book and you wouldn’t have half the story or emotions without them, but they’re not in your face. They’re there because life isn’t always perfect, and we all go through a range of things we would rather we didn’t, and they help move Bruno and Esther’s story along without being jarring.

I would have preferred if the chapters weren’t as long. There were some shorter chapters, but overall, they were a little longer than I like. I know some people enjoy longer chapters, but I am a fan of a short, sharp chapter, but that was  the only real negative in my view – and it’s more a view on me and my tastes than of the book itself.

Overall, it is a really lovely, warming story, full of love and friendships, happiness and sorrow, anger and joy. It’s a story you can really lose yourself in and see yourself in, and before you know it, you’re half way through.

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