Catching Lightning by Katie Stephens
Published: 23rd January 2015
Stars: 5 *****
Is there ever a right time and place for love?
Can one ever tell when or where it will strike?
Can the love of a man win over the loathing of his country?
You never know where or when lightning will strike, but when it happens on a trip back to Kenya to bury your parents you know the timing isn’t great.
Mel has spent the past 14 years resenting her parents for abandoning her at a boarding school in England while they went back to Kenya, a country she had come to hate, to run an orphanage and school for their charity. A tragic accident forces her to return to Kamuti for her parents’ funeral, forcing her to face her fear of flying and hatred for the place which has now stolen her parents from her for good. But meeting the people who meant so much to her parents and above all the gorgeous, England-educated Sam was not part of the plan.
Finding her mother’s diaries reveals a lot of unanswered questions and the discovery of a detailed itinerary of a trip round Kenya that her parents dreamed of making with her makes Mel realise that maybe she has had things wrong all these years.
Will taking the trip help her find her answers? Will visiting the most beautiful and memorable locations of the land make her fall in love with the man, the country, neither or both?
When Mel discovers the ultimate painful secret about her past and loses her job as a teacher at a posh girls’ school, she has one final choice to make – as they say lightening only strikes once.
A modern day OUT OF AFRICA in reverse story, CATCHING LIGHTNING provides the kind of realist escapism which would appeal to readers of Jill Mansell, Erica James and Santa Montefiore, with a pinch of Belinda Jones thrown in for good measure.
Melinda Purcell is a teacher in a girls' secondary school, she enjoys her job & at the beginning of the book we see her looking forward to spending her annual holiday with her parents. Her parents, Nick & Freda have spent most of her life working for a charity in Kenya so she treasures the time that she spends with them. Unfortunately tragedy strikes when her parents are both killed in a tragic car accident forcing Mel to face her fears & get on a plane to Kenya to attend their funeral & sort out their estate.
Her fear of flying is so great that she has to be sedated in order to fly to Kenya & it's not just her phobia of flying that is causing her concern. She has a strong hate for Kenya always feeling that her parents loved it their more than they loved being with her. So with a sense of duty she heads out with her godmother Moira to make arrangements to bury her parents, Mel has every intention of getting everything over & done with quickly so that she can return to her life England as soon as she can.
Upon arriving in Kenya, Mel meets Samson who picks her & Moira up from the airport & despite his good looks she can't help but find him annoying & arrogant. On the drive from the airport to the camp she can't hide her disgust for the country that she believes took her parents from her & it takes a while for her walls to come down. What follows is a journey about Mel finding peace as well as finding her parents even though they are gone. Mel had always believed that her parents chose Kenya over her but through her mother's scrapbooks, journals & diaries she learns otherwise.
This is a truly beautiful story about love & loss, secrets & lies & about a young woman's need to find herself in a country that she has loathed for so long. Mel is a truly wonderful character who has to overcome so much at such a painful time in her life. Kenya really gets under Mel's skin and I found myself falling in love with Kenya through Mel's eyes. Katie Stephen's writing had the ability to sweep my along & I devoured Catching Lightning in one sitting, staying up way too late in order to finish it.
Catching Lightning made me feel so many emotions, I felt Mel's pain, I shared her joy, at times I found myself smiling to myself as Mel experienced new things. The story was also made by the many secondary characters who all played major roles in telling Mel's story. Kerry who became Mel's friend whilst at the camp added some humour & sparkle & it was wonderful seeing the bond that grew between the pair. There were the many other people that Mel met during her time in Kenya, the teachers & children at the school and of course Samson. Samson plays a major part in helping Mel to grieve and find the peace she has been so desperate to find.
This was a magical read from start to finish, a wonderful setting, an engaging story & a wonderful cast of characters. It was both a powerful & emotional book that left me longing for more. Well done to Katie Stephens for writing such an amazing story.
About The Author
Katie Stephens is the #1 bestselling author of CANDLES ON THE SAND. She works in PR and lives in Surrey, England, with her husband Will and two young daughters. In 2008 Katie signed herself up for a creative writing course, loved it and found herself spending all her spare time (not much with 2 young children) at the computer. Her first novel Candles on the Sand, set on the Amalfi Coast, was published in 2011 and went on to become an Amazon bestseller.