My One True North by Milly Johnson: a dazzling, contemporary masterpiece, full of heart, soul and humour - book review -

My One True North
My One True North

Two star players struggling to cope with the raw grief of losing their loved ones, and discovering friendship, solace, love and understanding.

Could you ever comfortably laugh along with a story involving bereavement, loss and grief?

When much-loved Barnsley author Milly Johnson is writing the script, anything is possible... so get your hands on this funny, poignant new tragicomedy and enjoy one of the North of England’s best feel-good novelists at the top of her game.

My One True North is Johnson’s seventeenth novel and it’s a dazzling, contemporary masterpiece, full of heart, soul and humour, and just what you might have expected from the winner of the RoNA Best Romantic Comedy Novels of 2014 and 2016.

This is a writer whose wide-ranging experiences as a columnist, joke-writer, poet and after-dinner speaker have made her a consummate ‘people person,’ enabling her to fill her clever stories with people we all recognise and to seamlessly blend heartfelt emotion with laugh-out-loud comedy, gritty reality with gorgeous romance, and moments of sheer magic with the downright prosaic.

Here we meet two star players struggling to cope with the raw grief of losing their loved ones, and discovering friendship, solace, love and understanding in a quaint little teashop tucked away on a quiet northern street.

Lawyer Laurie De Vere and fireman Pete Moore should never have met but fate has pushed them together for a reason which they have yet to discover.

Six months ago, Pete was on fire duty when he was called out with his team to a terrible ten-vehicle pile-up on a dual carriageway heading out of town.

It was the worst imaginable nightmare for Pete because his wife Tara was among the victims and now the memories of that night are ‘like a big, knotted ball of barbed wire’ inside his skull.

Laurie is still reeling after her partner, Alex, also died in a car crash. Thoughts ‘rolled into her brain like a cold, dark fog’ and she is struggling to get past the ‘armour-plating’ she has welded around herself.

To help manage their grief, they have both joined the same counselling group at Molly Jones-Hoyland’s teashop where tea, cakes, compassion and good advice are dispensed.

From their overwhelming sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and sense a fresh new beginning. But the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories. And then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart…

Johnson’s sensitive exploration of what it means to grieve for a loved one lies at the heart of this beautifully observed Yorkshire-flavoured odyssey which, in trademark style, features a cast of exquisitely imagined characters and an emotional temperature that changes at almost every turn of the page.

And what a rollercoaster ride it is through the anguish of loss and the unearthing of dark secrets as love blossoms and the strength of the human spirit and the power of hope prevail against all the odds.

Along the way, we share the experiences of lovely Laurie and dependable Pete, meet up again with our old friend Molly from the Teashop on the Corner, and marvel at a story threaded throughout with Johnson’s warmth, wit and wisdom.

My One True North is a triumph… a tale of disaster and joy, full of bewitching twists, inspirational truisms, and optimism in the face of despair.

The perfect fillip to help beat the virus blues…

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £14.99)

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £14.99)