This Family by Kate Sawyer

It’s always interesting to see who reviews books online. The big newspapers, Kirkus, your favourite bloggers? Some books, however, seem to have a raft of bloggers like me who review the book and love it – usually with advanced copies – and this book is one of those. Obviously not deemed important enough to be reviewed by the big boys.

It reminded me very much of The Past by Tessa Hadley, set in a family house that will soon not belong to the family, with everyone gathered and past secrets, animosities and fall-outs brought to the surface, and if you are lucky, resolved. This is the premise for This Family although the book alternates chapters between the present and past so that the whole story of the family is brought under the spotlight.

Central to the book is Mary, the mother to three girls, ex-wife to Richard – Dick being a more appropriate name, and the day in question is her wedding day to Iain and all she wants is for everyone to have a nice day and put her at the centre of the day. She has spent a life-time caring for all the others, including her ex-mother-in-law, and now this is her time and her day before she starts a new life. The chapters jump about sharing the points of view of all of the family both in the present and past, which weaves together a shared history. In fact all this jumping about and telling the back story means that you don’t get to know who Mary is marrying until about half-way through the book. I did think the end of the book was going to be a bit twee, everyone getting along and that did appear to be how it would finish. But, wait! There was another chapter. Yes, and it has a bit of a shock in it, told from Clara the young child’s point of view. That was an interesting twist to the end.

The book is full of emotions, sisters and how their errors and the things they say can become embedded and affect lives. I do think it was a slightly unlucky family to have had all of the things that they had experienced happen, but sometimes life is like that.

A book for the beach or lying in the garden, under a tree in the dappled shade.

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