The World at My Feet by Catherine Isaac
Ellie is a gardener. Her garden in the idyllic English countryside is not just her pride and joy, it’s also her sanctuary. Because, although she spends most of her days outdoors, she has been afraid to set foot beyond her gate for nearly two years. Now, someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to take those first steps outside home.
Harriet, meanwhile, seems to be fearless. A foreign correspondent for a broadsheet newspaper, we meet her in the late 1980s, when she’s passionate about her job and determined to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania to cover the state orphanages making headlines across the globe, she is forced to question her most important rule as a journalist.
The idea for the novel came to me during a conversation I had with a remarkable man called Mark Cook, a retired army officer who had set up a charity called ‘Hope and Homes for Children’ with his wife Caroline from their kitchen table in Wiltshire. The charity’s aim is to eliminate the institutional care of children worldwide and instead enable youngsters to have what we all need when growing up: the love of a family.
I was speaking to him as part of my research for a completely different idea – one that never made the final cut – and it was then that we got talking about Romania, where Hope and Homes has been working for many years, helping to reform the child protection system.
I’d remembered those headlines when the state orphanages were first uncovered. I’d been a teenager in Liverpool at the time and, when the images of images of cold, hungry babies and children who had suffered the most dreadful neglect appeared on television, I would remember them afterwards for a very long time.
The big questions I had for Mark Cook were: what had happened to those children in the intervening years? And what is the situation like in the country today?
It was the answer to these and many more questions that sparked the idea for The World at My Feet, which sweeps between a present-day setting in an English country garden and the Romania of thirty years ago.
The garden setting that is Ellie’s obsession was something that also fascinated me. I recently moved into a very old, crumbling house that I’m in the process of renovating and it has a stunning Victorian garden, which has clearly been designed by someone who knew a lot about planting; there is colour and vibrancy at all times of year.
I don’t mind admitting that while I love being out there, I knew very little about horticulture myself before I started researching the book. Even now, my fingers still aren’t as green as Ellie’s – and if I’m honest I prefer writing about gardens than tending to them – but I definitely know more than I used to. And, having previously written about the most picturesque parts of Italy and France, it was a joy to give the same treatment to a location far closer to home.
The World at my Feet is a novel with many themes. Friendship, love, motherhood . . . and plants.
But’s also a story about how we as humans go about confronting our fears – and why sometimes we have to peel back the layers of our own history to discover who we really are.
‘Beautifully written, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting – The World At My Feet is Catherine Isaac’s best book so far!’ DEBBIE JOHNSON, author of Maybe One Day
‘Hugely uplifting and beautifully written’ HOLLY MILLER, author of The Sight of You
‘I was totally absorbed in this uplifting novel. Catherine Isaac tackles serious themes with a beautiful lightness of touch. Loved it’ KATE EBERLEN, author of Only You
‘Heart-warming and rewarding, a gorgeous story of self discovery, family and love’ ANSTEY HARRIS, author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
‘The World at My Feet is such a moving, thought provoking and beautifully written book and I have loved being part of Ellie’s journey of self discovery’ ***** Roxy
‘I really enjoyed this. I loved how the stories intertwined. I got so invested and could not put it down. Loved it’ **** Lisa C
‘A beautiful, thought-provoking and emotional novel. I was completely captivated and read it in two sittings.’ ***** Cari
‘A truly wonderful, emotive beautifully written book that will stay with me for a long time.’ ***** Sally T
‘Really well written and a captivating story which had tears in my eyes at the end’ ***** Netgalley Reviewer
‘A beautifully written story, moving and totally uplifting’ ***** Shirleyann
‘What a wonderful book’ ***** Georgina
‘Beautifully written, and addresses emotional issues sensitively and carefully’ **** Samantha
‘A real feel good story’ ***** Sophie
‘An incredibly moving beautiful read, written with immense sensitivity. My heart broke, then mended, I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I loved it. A book that will stay with me’ Dawn *****
‘Beautifully written’ **** Kelly
‘A engaging and emotional read and Catherine has dealt with sensitive subjects like agoraphobia in a really empathetic way. It’s a beautiful story, well researched and wonderfully written’ Joanna, read her full insta post here.
‘This is a book that has to be experienced, I think everyone reading this will find something personal to take from it. Catherine Isaac has done it again, this really is another beautiful novel!’ Catriona, read her full blog review here.
‘I felt so deeply for so many of the characters, and I think they will stay with me for a while’ **** Polly
‘I was very moved at the end’ ***** Netgalley Review
‘A powerful story about unconditional love, friendship, family and new beginnings. Poignant, realistic, brutally honest, witty and clever. Moving in places, humorous in others, I can’t recommend it highly enough!’ Agi, read her full review here.
‘A wonderful, emotional and beautiful book. It will stay with me for a long time.’ ***** Sue S
‘Emotional and poignant with such a brilliant cast of characters. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.’ Kirsty
‘A great read’ **** Isabelle
‘A wonderful well written book with excellent characters’ ***** Christine
‘I absolutely loved this book, it’s filled with great characters and a heartbreaking back story, which is told so well, while covering traumatic subjects.’ ***** Marie
‘A touching story’ **** Lucy
‘An absolutely brilliant book’ ***** Mandy
‘This story will stay with me for a long time’ ***** Hannah
‘Deeply moving’ ***** Mandy
‘A beautifully written book’ **** Laura
‘I loved the descriptions of the gardens, plants and flowers and the use of Instagram entwined with the story, and it added some much needed escapism to my life’ **** Veronique
‘If you have ever experienced and tried to explain anxiety to someone else, readthis book. Recommend it to your friend. Pass it on. Spread the word’ ***** Lyndsey
‘Awesome’ ***** Karen W
‘Highly recommended. Intelligent, thought provoking, and just brilliant!’ **** Felicity
‘A poignant story that is very moving’ ***** Ceecee
‘Very rewarding and beautifully written’ **** Fatuma
‘Multi-layered with so much depth it’ ***** Katie T
‘Beautifully written’ **** WeekendBookClub
‘What a beautiful story… heartbreaking and so well researched’ **** Lucy
‘This book is both sweet and poignant. The characters have depth and the back stories are very well researched. The ending is a treat. Unexpected, it keeps you guessing until the last chapter. I couldn’t put it down!’ ***** Karen K
‘A very moving book… I don’t mind admitting that I shed a few tears at the end’ ***** Mel D
‘The World At My Feet is a wonderful and compelling story of self-discovery and facing the past’ ***** Noemi
‘There’s a wonderful depth to the writing in The World At My Feet. Catherine Isaac’s ability to appeal to all the senses is glorious’ ***** Linda
‘I warn you, this book is a tear-jerker’ ***** Nicki P
‘Heart-breaking and poignant’ ***** Victoria
‘I can’t stress enough, how brilliant this book is! Have tissues available for the end, you will need them…’ ***** Georgina
‘For lovers of romance, characters with an emotional arc and beautiful storylines, and readers that don’t mind shedding a little tear.’ ***** Tanja
‘A ‘triumph in the face of adversity’, uplifting read, which will stay with me for a very long time!’ ***** Corrie
‘A deeply thoughtful and moving book’ ***** Barbara
‘A fabulous inspiring novel’ ***** Julie W
‘A totally immersing and engaging read with a roller coaster of emotions’ ***** Elizabeth
‘This read took me on an emotional rollercoaster, it really is a beautiful book, I could not put it down and didn’t want it to end. Emotional and beautifully captures the human trials and tribulations and how to be brave and face our fears’ ***** Charlene, read her full blog review here.
‘Beautifully written and researched’ ***** Mich
‘I was enchanted by the depth of the story’ ***** Shelley
‘I was invested from the outset, and loved the heartwarming feel on finishing’ ***** Claire
‘Sensitive and uplifting’ *****
‘A beautifully written memorable read’ **** Julie H
‘I cannot recommend this deeply moving story enough but be warned you may need tissues at the ready especially for the wonderful ending ‘ ***** Jean
‘With believable characters and a strong story, this book is highly recommended.’ ***** Irene
‘Heartbreaking and so well researched and written well’ **** Lucy
**** Emma B
‘So heart-warming and I cried happy tears!’ ***** Jenny J
‘Loved it!’ ***** Candy H
***** Melanie G
‘The story is wonderful and amazing, and will stay with me for a long time’ **** Sharna C
‘Blew me away’ ***** Kate P
‘beautifully written and well researched’ ***** Victoria K
‘A gorgeous book’ ***** Aoife D
‘Wonderful story with brilliantly written characters’ **** Karena F
‘This was an absolutely excellent read. It’s unusual, well written and insightful’ **** Jane P
‘This is such a lovely book, with sad moments and heartwarming moments. You will love it!’ **** Gillian
‘A wonderfully written book’ ***** Aileen
‘If you want a book that will make you think, affect you and that is ultimately uplifting, read The World at My Feet – you won’t regret it’ ***** Beverley
‘This book made me laugh and it made me cry and but most of all it filled my heart with love and hope’ ***** Tina
‘A beautiful read’ **** Jane
‘The novel begins with an uplifting storyline but then something completely unexpected is dropped on us and the story then takes on a whole new depth and direction and I was completely compelled from that moment on, unable to put my kindle down’ Rea, read her full review here.
‘The World at My Feet is a really touching novel. Catherine Isaac writes so beautifully about the complexity of life and love. I had my heart in my mouth and a lump in my throat on more than one occasion - one for my top reads list this year I’m sure’ Joanne, read her full review here.
‘Whilst The World At My Feet had all the beautiful descriptive writing I have come to expect from a Catherine Isaac novel, this time there is an added extra. If you want a book that explores humanity, is romantic, is transporting and is an utterly brilliant multi-layered read, read this’ Linda, read her full review here.
‘Beautifully written with thoroughly researched subjects, Catherine has created another soulful story that captivates the reader. The World At My Feet is a stunningly written story of hope, courage and new beginnings’ Bronagh, read her full blog tour post here.