Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

Every Happy Family by Sarah Stovell - Review

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I requested this at the library because I had seen it and thought it sounded good. Generally, I'm glad I read it but I did find it weird and a little bit repetitive of other stories I've read before. The front cover also really looks like Spilt Milk which I read only a couple of weeks before this, which is weird! 

So it's Christmas in the book, but it didn't really feel like a festive read so I didn't mind reading it at this point. Minnie is seventy ish and all of her children are returning to the house for Christmas. Her middle child and eldest daughter, Lizzie, lives two hundred miles away from Minnie's Cotswolds home, with her daughter Ruby, and her friend Tamsin, and Tamsin's daughter Daisy. The two women aren't romantically linked but they have made a conscious decision to live together and co parent. Ruby's dad was abusive towards Lizzie and she finally got out; she thinks that Ruby doesn't understand what happened between them but Ruby knows far more than she's let on. Ruby is thirteen now so definitely not a baby. 

Minnie's youngest daughter Jess has just had her second baby (like literally two days before Christmas). She is married to Anna, and they already have a little boy, Rowan, who is three. Jess is much younger than her siblings. Her dad is Minnie's second husband, Bert, who is a bit of a non entity in the book although he is there. Minnie and Bert are both academics and are just very into intellectualism and stuff. Minnie doesn't think that Lizzie is clever enough - she's always been a bit ignored in the family I think.

Then there's oldest child Owen. He has been living in Australia for years and the family has barely seen him. He's marriedto Sophie and they have a thirteen year old girl too, Layla. Owen and Sophie's marriage is on the rocks and Sophie decides not to come to England for Christmas. Layla, like Ruby, knows that there's something going on between her parents, but doesn't know exactly what. Minnie is so excited to see her son even though she knows there are tensions between them. 

And the tension goes by the name of Nora Skelly. She was a childhood friend of Lizzie's and had a trouble childhood because her mother disappeared when she was around twelve. Similarly, Lizzie and Owen's dad, Minnie's first husband, Jack, was an alcoholic who died when Lizzie was around eleven or twelve. Minnie had spent a lot of time clearing up Jack's mess so when he died she was mostly just relieved. But obviously his kids missed him, and Owen in particular started going off the rails a bit. He and Minnie had a lot of tension between them. But then he started going out with Nora. I did feel a bit sorry for Lizzie here cos she kind of got sidelined, but she seemed okay with it. Owen seemed to settle down and things were okay. But then something happened, and the family fractured, hence why Owen has basically been estranged from his mother and sisters for years. 

Nora is back in the village because her dad has died. His house needs putting up for sale and she needs to sort it out. She has been in touch with Owen, and he wants to invite her for Christmas. I won't say more of the story but I will say that it did feel a bit stereotypical, like I've read similar stuff before. 

I liked Lizzie a lot and felt sorry for her. She had been through a lot and always been a bit sidelined by her brilliant siblings and mum. I genuinely wanted her to be happy! Owen was likeable in parts although sometimes he did stupid things. He mostly just wanted everything to be okay, though. The teenage girls were both good characters, doing the types of things that we all did at thirteen. Jess isn't portrayed very much in the book and although it makes sense to why it was hard to get to know her. 

Minnie though was just very unlikeable and difficult to understand. She makes selfish decisions and although the main one is something I won't spoil, I felt like I did understand WHY she made that decision but feel she could have been kinder about it? She was sort of just really into herself and no one else. Everything has to go her way, and it emmerges at the end of the book that she manipulated a lot of happenings in ways I just found ridiculous. I didn't like her.

In all I'm giving this three out of five. I am glad I read it, but I did find it odd. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blogger news


Most Read