The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells


Primary school teacher Casey Cassidy misses going on holiday with her friend, Ellie, after forgetting her passport. This leads to a chance encounter at the airport with Ben Summer, which turns into an intense, loving relationship. But a year later, Ben has gone and Casey escapes to France to try to get her life, and her head, into some kind of order.

The book goes between the year Casey and Ben were together (from how they met onwards), interspersed with chapters following Casey in the present day. It’s easy to follow as the chapters are marked BEFORE and AFTER, plus the BEFORE ones are written in italics. You don’t find out the exact circumstances of the relationship ending until a long way into the book.

I liked the main character of Casey although she did annoy me at times. I liked her friends Ellie (in England) and Sylvie (in France) and felt the book was very good at writing about friendships and how important they are. Kevin is also another great character and I loved his back story. I loved the cats too!

The message about taking comfort from your surroundings is a good one and the importance of nature in recovery. I’m sure we’ve all had awful days only to be awakened by sunshine and birdsong the next morning and realised things can be better.

The book also has lots of messages about the environment and the awful state of things like factory farming. Being a vegetarian for 35 years, I am quite aware of all this, but I found I wasn’t too keen reading about it – especially with the News being so depressing at the moment, I would have preferred something lighter, a bit of escapism!

Overall, it’s well-written and full of important messages about depression, love and life.


The Life You Left Behind

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 come 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…

Purchase Link –

Author Bio –

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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Bookbub profile

Published by karenlouisehollis

53, lives in Lincoln, England. Published writer, book blogger and reviewer, mum, grandma, cat owner, vegetarian. Loves reading and sewing. My novel is out - WELCOME TO WHITLOCK CLOSE.

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