Book Review: The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

The Family Holiday

I enjoyed Elizabeth Noble’s last book Love, Iris (even if it was called ‘Letters To Iris’ when I read the pre publication copy!) and so when I saw this on Net Galley I jumped at the chance to read it.

Here’s the blurb:

“The Chamberlain family used to be close.

Charlie and Daphne were happily married, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick were inseparable. But then, inevitably, the children grew up and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since Daphne died, Charlie can’t help but think about happier times for the Chamberlain family – before his children drifted apart. His wife was the family’s true north, and without her guidance, Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again. And by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

So, for the first time in a long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.

It’s only ten days . . . how bad could it be?”

It starts off with Charlie looking at suitable properties for his entire family to get together for his 80th birthday.  Coincidentally I was busy looking for a similar property for our family to get together, as Mum’s planned 70th birthday weekend away has been thwarted by coronavirus – so we were back to the drawing board for options for Easter 2021!

Each chapter is told from a different point of view – Charlie, or one of his 3 children.  Each of them is very different – and all going through their own trials and tribulations.

Laura has just split up from her husband and getting used to life as a single Mum to a teenage son, Nick is recently widowed with 3 small children. and Scott is recently married with 2 new teenage step daughters.  So lots going on for all of them – as is the case in most families I guess?

The first few chapters set the scene for each element of the family before they all get together for the holiday.

There are lots of secrets between the different family members – and it doesn’t feel like they’re a close family at all – but these unravel during the 10 days and the old bonds reform – and new ones are made.

The stories all develop – but also intertwine – in a clever way (which I remember the author being brilliant at in her previous book too), always coming back to the house.

Daphne – Charlie’s wife and the matriarch – has passed away a few years ago, and you really miss her presence – as clearly the family do too. The star of the book, for me, was Heather – Scott’s new American wife.  Initially I thought she was going to be the shallow, annoying, Instagram obsessed, gold digger – but actually, she was the person who drew the family together – and ended up my favourite character.

I thought the teenager storylines were written well – both their interactions with each other and with older family members – perhaps having a couple of them myself made me appreciate the accuracy of the characterisations.

I really like the ending – which was a few months down the line, and updated you on what everyone had got up to post holiday.  That was great – as nosy me always wants to see what has happened after the main storyline has finished.

Overall it’s a really ‘nice’ book.  Inoffensive, easy to read, nice and gentle to read when the world is feeling anything but nice and gentle – but it didn’t set the world on fire.  I enjoyed it – but it didn’t blow me away.  But thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!

 

Book Review: Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble

Letters to Iris

 

I am trying to be a bit more selective about what advanced review copy books I request from Netgalley – partly so I don’t get stuck with any more duds – but also because I want to be able to read them and give timely feedback so that I have a good reviewer rating and so when something I’m desperate to read comes along I can be approved!  (I am naturally a total geek too……)

Anyway – I saw this on there, and it really appealed so I decided to request it and was accepted (it still makes me do a happy dance every time this happens)

Here’s the blurb:

“Tess has a secret – one which is going to turn her life upside down in just nine months’ time.

The only person she can confide in is her beloved grandmother. But Iris is slipping further away each day.

Then chance brings a stranger into Tess’s life.

Gigi’s heart goes out to Tess, knowing what it’s like to feel alone. She’s determined to show her that there’s a silver lining to every cloud.

As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Tess feels inspired to open up.

But something still holds her back – until she discovers Iris has a secret of her own. A suitcase of letters from another time, the missing pieces of a life she never shared.

Could the letters hold the answers that Tess thought lost for ever?

An uplifting, unforgettable story about keeping secrets, taking chances and finding happiness where you least expect it.”

 

Initially the stories of Tess and Gigi appear completely separate and you’re not sure how they’re going to meet up – but then about 25% of the way through, they meet at a care home they both have relatives at. The care home sections were quite relevant to me, as my maternal grandmother has become a resident of one recently – so now they are much more on my radar than ever before.

I was immediately intrigued by both Tess and Gigi’s stories – I found both interesting, in completely different ways.  Tess writes to her unborn child – and that made me think about my own pregnancies – in a fond, reminiscing kind of way!

The book made me laugh – and cry – which is always good.  Whilst Tess and Gigi are the main characters, the supporting characters are also great and well rounded.  I particularly liked Tess’s friend Holly (whose daughter is a similar age to my eldest, and so was probably the character going through the most similar issues to me) and also Gigi’s daughter in law Emily – who was just lovely.

I won’t give too much of the story away (I loathe reviews that do that) and it is reasonably predictable – but in a comfortable and safe way, with some twists and turns along the way.  It does, as you expect from the start, encompass the whole ‘circle of life’ (sung in a Disney way, obvs!)

Now being a bit of a geek, I thought the book was really well written – it felt like it had been written with care and attention to detail and language.  Sometimes I feel some modern books seem a bit ‘disposable’ and have been written quickly by the author – this felt like it had been lovingly crafted rather than banged off to meet a deadline. (I hope you understand what I mean and I don’t sound like a total snobby weirdo?!?)

A big thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for my free advance review copy in return for my honest opinion.