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!