Learning To Speak American by Colette Dartford


Publisher: Twenty7

Publication Date: Ebook – 5 November 2015 | Paperback – 14 July 2016

“Having suffered in silence since the tragic death of their young daughter, Lola and Duncan Drummond’s last chance to rediscover their love for one another lies in an anniversary holiday to the gorgeous Napa Valley.

Unable to talk about what happened, Duncan reaches out to his wife the only way he knows how – he buys her a derelict house, the restoration of which might just restore their relationship.

As Lola works on the house she begins to realise the liberating power of letting go. But just as she begins to open up, Duncan’s life begins to fall apart.”


Firstly I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and share my honest opinion. As a parent myself I was unsure whether the subject of a child passing away would be too much for me to read but I had heard so many good things about this book that I just couldn’t resist finding out!

Thankfully the storyline began after the passing of Lola and Duncan’s daughter so I was spared the distress of reading about it as it happened. Details of the tragedy trickled through gradually and finally all was revealed but it was written in such a way that it didn’t overwhelm me with sadness (something I was grateful for).

The author successfully created a believable atmosphere that I could almost feel through the pages: to begin with there was a hollow emptiness surrounding Lola and Duncan. This changed to a warm kind of hope as they discovered the unexpected in California. Life continued back in the UK but there was an unpleasant sense of deception filtering through at this point, leading me to will Lola to do something that I would never normally encourage.

Towards the end it simply felt like everything was unravelling right before my eyes. It was at this moment that I decided how I would like the storyline to end up – I closed the book with a smile on my face so clearly I got my wish!

This was a beautifully written book that was a pleasure to read. I look forward to more from this author.


Learning to Speak American is Colette Dartford’s debut novel and is based on her experience of renovating a derelict house in California’s Napa Valley. Having bought and renovated the house, Colette lived there with her husband for many years before moving back to the UK. Colette wrote the book in California where it was a quarterfinalist in Amazon’s first novel award. Before becoming a writer, Colette worked as a Political Research Consultant in public policy for many years and has an Mphil in Political Science. Her second novel, The Sinners, will be published by Bonnier in 2017.

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