The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells – Blog Tour

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour and to Debbie Howells, Boldwood and Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.


Two strangers.

One missed flight.

It only takes a moment to change a life.

One year ago Casey Cassidy was happy. She had great friends, a wonderful teaching job and a busy life – until with one missed flight, everything changes.

One year later Casey knows what it means to find that once-in-a-lifetime love people dream of. But when Ben leaves, her heart is shattered.

Left facing a year of firsts without him, piecing her life back together seems impossible. But then a friend offers her a home in rural France.

In the solitude and emptiness, Casey needs to comes to terms with what’s happened and find a way to move forward. She has no idea where that will take her one year later…

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My Thoughts

The Life You Left Behind completely grabbed me at the first pages and didn’t let go until I had experienced every last bit.  It was emotional reading – at times uncomfortable but it’s a story told so believably well that I couldn’t stop reading it.

I love dual timeline stories and that device worked really well for the plot.  The past timeline was only about a year earlier and tells the story of how an insecure but lovely Casey, meets Ben in a seemingly ‘meant to be’ scenario at the airport.  The present timeline shows Casey alone, in France working through no longer being with Ben.  This isn’t initially obvious and is not revealed early in the book so it adds an air of mystery around the circumstances.  Whilst Casey is in France she discovers a diary written about a woman called Julia and I enjoyed this plot as much as the main one to be honest. 

Each chapter is really short and the time switches quickly between the two periods which was sometimes frustrating as I needed to see more of that particular story.  However, it also kept the mysteries longer and made the story more intense.

Despite having some uplifting elements, this is an emotional story.  It has a strong focus on mental illness and the effects it can have on people and those around them.  It’s a hard plot to go into without spoilers.       

The Life You Left Behind is a complex, well written story that provokes a lot of though and emotion.  I haven’t come across this author before but I will certainly be looking at her other novels after reading this one. 

Highly recommended however please be aware of the emotional content.

Author Bio – Debbie Howells

While working as long-haul cabin crew in her twenties, Debbie trained as a pilot and qualified as a flying instructor.  But as the mother of two small children, she wanted a career she could fit around them and started a wedding flower business, Country Flowers.  For thirteen years, Debbie created the natural, seasonal designs she became known for to venues throughout the South East.

It was towards the end of this time she started writing, in a notebook in the shade of her garden on her days off, self-publishing three women’s fiction novels, the third of which, Wildflowers, almost but not quite found her a literary agent.

Pursuing her dream of a traditional publishing deal, she went on to write her first psychological thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller, The Bones of You.  Four more have followed including the e-book bestseller The Vow, but it’s another long-awaited dream come true that her women’s fiction novels have now found a home with Boldwood.

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