Troubador Homeward Bound

Released: 28/01/2020

ISBN: 9781838591595

eISBN: 9781838598068

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Homeward Bound


George is a recently widowed seventy-nine-year-old. He nearly made it as a rock star in the 1960s and he’s not happy. Tara is his teenage granddaughter and she’s taken refuge from her bickering parents by living with George. Toby is George’s son-in-law and he wants George in a care home. 

George has two secrets. 1) He’s never revealed why his music career stalled. And 2) No-one knows just how much the disappointment of opportunities missed still gnaw at him. He craves one last chance, even at his age. When it presents itself, through the appearance of a long-lost distant relative - whose chequered past should set alarm bells ringing - he can’t resist. 

For Tara, living with her grandfather is a way to find her own path and develop her own musical ambitions. She isn’t prepared for the clash between different generations and living in a strange house full of her grandfather’s memories – and vinyl records.

They get off to a shaky start. George takes an instant dislike to the sounds from her bedroom that seem more suited to Guantanamo Bay than anything he would call musical. But as time plays out, they find there are more similarities – neither know how to operate a dishwasher – than differences, and parallels across the generations slowly bring them to recognise their shared strengths. But when Toby inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events, it leaves Tara with the same dilemma her grandfather faced five decades before with the same life-changing choice to make.

Homeward Bound is out and can be ordered from good bookshops and through Waterstones
and Amazon

One Amazon review: 'I really enjoyed this book Although it will clearly appeal to music fans of my generation (over 65) who will appreciate the way Richard skillfully weaved the many music references into the story the book will appeal to younger readers too. The central premise that young people should take every opportunity to follow their dreams is very poignant. It wouldn't take much to turn this book into a film script.'

And I'm in the papers!

Family Tree Magazine

This is Wiltshire

Islington Tribune

Islington Faces

Thoroughly enjoyed this book and was really sorry when I finished reading it and wanted it to go on. Hopefully more to follow by Richard Smith.

by Mary Kinneir

I got this book as a gift and found it really enjoyable and hard to put down. It's a story of music, relationships, dreams and realities.
The author managed to bring the characters to life in a way that had me totally invested - I was really annoyed by one character's actions, which to me is a sign of a well-written book.
I really enjoyed the musical references too; some I recognised from my parent's era, some were current that I knew and some I looked up (which brought the story to life further)! I'd definitely recommend it and think it could also be a good one for book groups too - lots to discuss.

by B. Sheppard

Heart warming but not sentimental story of older people and interfamily relationships told with a wry.himour.
Great picture of the relationship of a teenaged daughter and her family particularly her grandfather
Sent me straight to YouTube to check out the music
Good read for anyone 15-90

by CRS

This book is a lot of fun - I read it in two days, finding it hard to put down. Richard Smith's dialogue is fantastic! It's a family drama, but will be especially good for anyone who loves music as they are sure to enjoy the parallel experiences a grandfather and his granddaughter adjust to the next stage of their lives. Humane, witty, super-readable, enjoy.

by Nicola

A great story.... at first it was hard to get into but soon I was hooked! Great novel! It had a realness to life’s struggles.

by Ammorett

Homeward Bound was the sometimes sweet, sometimes heart wrenching, often both story of an aging musician and his family as they all try to make peace with his aging, his love for music after all these years, and all the messy aspects of family. The pacing was at times a bit slow and it wasn't necessarily what I would usually read, but the struggles of taking care of aging family members is relatable enough to anyone that despite that, I enjoyed this.

From the blurb, I thought it would deal more with just the relationship between Tara, the granddaughter, and George, the aging musician. Instead, it was about the family as a whole, as well as some romantic partners I do still wish it had been more about the two of them, but there were some lovely things about chosen families - though it that wasn't explicitly stated - as Tara's father leaves for mistreating his wife and her boyfriend, Mark, steps up unexpectedly. No one's really great in this, they all do pretty dubious things and are often selfish, but they do paint a pretty accurate picture of a family. How realistic the characters are written is part of what makes many scenes of this so painful to write and it's very well executed.

The ending is about as bittersweet as you'd expect from something like this, but I was pretty happy with it. It went more or less how I expected, but I'm glad for that. No need for big shock endings in something like this.

Overall, I'd give this a solid four stars. I do think slightly better pacing could have improved it, but I also think that might just be the sort of story the author was wanting to tell. Life, especially in its advanced stages, is awkwardly paced, after all. The accompanying Spotify playlist is a nice touch. I'm sure anyone into music and complex family relationships would enjoy this.

by Sebastian

What a lovely book! I loved the playlist that came with it too.

I was completely invested in George's story and his life, and wanted to protect him in the early stages of the story and cheered for him later on. There were lots of heart warming moments and even tears too!
I enjoyed the realistic depiction of family relationships, the characters I was supposed to love I adored - and the awful ones I despised which is always a sign of a good book and fantastic writing.

It was a heartwarming but often sad reminder of what it must be like to get older and look back at your life and have regrets about missed opportunities but remained hopeful as characters found a new purpose. I loved how music is such a big feature of the story and depicts how powerful it can be, both individually and on others!
The ending was bittersweet but one that left me satisfied.

Wish I could read it all over again! If this book was a song, I would play it every day.

by Em

I fell in love with George and his family and really felt engrossed while following his story in the present and hearing his stories from the past.

This book primarily follows George, an elderly man whose wide has recently past away. After a few months of living with his daughter, Bridget, she finally lets George return to his own residence in London where his granddaughter, Tara, lives with him while she studies at university. While reading, you learn lots about George's love and passion for music. Tara, on the other hand, is studying history and is very much living in the modern day. Her boyfriend, Mark, is also into music, however, his style is a lot more modern and not quite to George's taste.

I really loved reading this, mostly because I felt so connected and involved in all the situations the family got into. I really felt like I was going on George's journey with him, as well as Tara and Bridget along the way. I wish I could play the piano just like George can and this book has inspired me to start playing again. This books is brilliant and is well worth the journey.

by Emily

The story centres about 79 year old George Turnbull, who we meet as he is being brought around (reluctantly...) an old folks home by his daughter and son in law. After just having lost his wife suddenly and lamenting a lost career in music, this is the last place he wants to be.

George and his granddaughter Tara strike a deal, he doesn't want to live with his awful son in law and Tara needs a place to stay in London, so Tara moves in to her grandfather's house, doddery old dog and all.

The relationships between the characters are so pure and realistic. Smith writes a glorious character, you root for them, you feel sad for them, you want them to get what's coming. I felt so apart of the family, I felt like I was living in George's house!

The music that is woven through is also a great touch, for anyone that enjoys music you will LOVE this book. I particularly liked the juxtaposition between George and Tara's boyfriend, Mark. George was a musician (and still is...) and has been there and done that, worn the t-shirt, while Mark is starting out in his music career and specialises in 'psychedelic rap' which George does not get! However, they come to a mutual appreciation and it's gorgeous.

I had tears brimming in my eyes for the last 20% of the book - it was so real and emotive. I loved George and Tara's character. Their relationship was beautiful and I felt unbridled joy through a lot of the book, it was just so sweet.

I can't begin to tell you how much this book made me feel, it really is a special one.

by Jeannine

George is nearly 80, his daughter wants him to move to an old folks home, but he believes he's too young, he can cope, and he has his music. He has been a musician all his life, but never made it to the big time. A solution is reached whereby his granddaughter Tara moves in with him while she is at university.

Thus the stage is set for a lovely tale of family, generational differences, deceit, and lots and lots of music. The ending is perhaps a little trite, but it is a lovely story, which sweeps the reader in to George's world. The reader becomes frustrated as it is clear not everyone is behaving honourably, and you can't wait to read what will happen next.

Well written, entertaining and very enjoyable.

by Sue

I first thought that it was so cute that a 79-year-old man had wanted a second chance as a rockstar. This novel takes us to the home of George, and his granddaughter that has taken refuge from her always arguing parents. Tara and George didn't have the best interactions at the beginning, however, they began to bond and share their love of music. It was all so cute.

I highly recommend this book to those who love sweet, platonic relationships and amazing writing.

by Mackenzie

“’Do I have to stop loving music because I’m old and decrepit? I didn’t stop loving music when the sixties ended. The decade, or mine. Nothing’s new. Things get changed, sometimes improved.’ He paused before adding ruefully, ‘But not often.’ He sighed.”

Homeward Bound is the first novel by British author, Richard Smith. Newly widowed at seventy-nine, George Turnbull represents a problem for his son-in-law, Toby Waller. The solution is, of course to sell George’s London house and put him in a care home. George’s daughter Bridget is unenthusiastic about this idea, while George refuses point blank to consider it. After all, no care home would accommodate his piano or his extensive record collection.

His eighteen-year-old granddaughter, Tara is heading off to uni in London and needs a place to live, but she is hesitant about sharing with her boyfriend, Mark. Is it the ideal solution? Would a uni student doing her course and having a social life be available to keep a subtle eye on her grandfather, who is getting frailer, even if he doesn’t like to admit it? Might they muddle through together?

George loves nothing better than to sit in his special music room, surrounded by his vinyl, revelling in the sleeve notes and the sound. Playing his piano, too, is important: he is working on a song inspired by his wife. “Missing Evelyn” could be the hit song he never had in his career as support act for more famous groups. Now sustained by composing production music, a hit at his age would certainly wipe the smirk off his sneering son-in-law’s face.

Tara introduces Mark, whose idea of good music is his own: “Old-lampin, ghetto-grittin’, steelo dealo pimped-out mamma-jamma scratch”. When George hears it: “It was not ‘music’ by any definition George was familiar with. He instinctively put his hands over his ears and imagined inmates of Guantanamo Bay facing similar barrages of torturous noise”.

But when Mark sees George’s music room, he is very interested in George's collection, although apparently only for the resale value. And then Robin turns up. Had been referred to as Robbin’. Bridget definitely isn’t ready to forgive and forget, although Toby doesn’t seem to share her ire. Is this untrustworthy in-law there to target an old man’s most fervent desire?

What a wonderful tale Richard Smith gives the reader. His characters are endearing for all their flaws and foibles, and if the plot seems to be heading in a predictable direction, there are some heart-warming surprises on the way too. As well as touching on the dilemma of aged care, the story explores the balance between family obligation and following one’s dream.

Included are some interesting musical tidbits and a generous dose of musical nostalgia that can be indulged with the Spotify playlist that the author provides. Yes, the title does refer to the song by Paul Simon, and there are surely many things worse than a Simon and Garfunkel earworm, if that’s the result. This is a brilliant debut novel, moving and uplifting, and Smith’s next work will be eagerly awaited.

by Marianne

Richard Smith

Homeward Bound is my first novel. Some might say, at my time of life, I should be retired with my feet up, not writing a first novel. But then, writing has been my life. For decades, I made my living by writing and storytelling for TV commercials and sponsored and corporate films and videos. You might well have seen some of them. On the way, I won numerous accolades, including a British Television Advertising Award, and over fifty best scriptwriter and best programme awards at non-broadcast Oscars.

Filming locations ranged across Nigeria, Norway and Norwich! Many recent projects focused on social issues, including disability, equality and care for the young and elderly. While I hope these have made a positive difference, rather worryingly, two of my early commercials were featured in a British Library summer exhibition entitled Propaganda.

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