“It is my dearest wish, that after so long apart, I am able to bring this family together for my wedding day.“
Kate Sawyer ~ This Family
This house. This family.
Mary has raised a family in this house. Watched her children play and laugh and bicker in this house. Today she is getting married in this house, with all her family in attendance.
The wedding celebrations have brought fractured family together for the first time in years: there’s Phoebe and her husband Michael, children in tow. The young and sensitive Rosie, with her new partner. Irene, Mary’s ex-mother-in-law. Even Emma, Mary’s eldest, is back for the wedding – despite being at odds with everyone else.
Set over the course of an English summer’s day but punctuated with memories from the past forty years of love and loss, hope and joy, heartbreak and grief, this is the story of a family. Told by a chorus of characters, it is an exploration of the small moments that bring us to where we are, the changes that are brought about by time, and what, despite everything, stays the same.
Sometimes a book doesn’t need to shout to make an impact. This Family is one of those books – it’s quiet, unassuming and yet it stays in your mind once it’s finished.
Kate has such a beautiful writing style that I’d probably enjoy reading her shopping list. Prose is eloquent and descriptive, but almost poetic in its nature as it weaves around each character to tell their story.
I personally associated the most with Emma, and at times her past is tough to read and quite emotional; it’s understandable why she struggles to be around Phoebe and her reaction to her niece and nephew is accurate and heart-breaking. Each sister’s back story helps us to understand them as a person, as well as the effect their father’s behaviour had on them all. Rosie seems to have suffered the most, yet she is perhaps the one who is the happiest.
Mary is quietly calm, rising to the challenge of three girls and doing her best, despite their differences. Her kind, caring nature can be seen in her acceptance of Rosie and Irene, both of whom she takes in and looks after. After a life with many challenges, we hope she finally has her happy ending.
As the past threatens to spoil the wedding, the family must overcome their differences and come together to focus on the future. As we watch the gentle dramas unfold, we are enveloped in subtle humour, sadness and sibling rivalry. Its relatability makes it hard not to get swept up emotionally (there may have been tears).
We all have a very different type of family, but in this book we get a glimpse into someone else’s and see that actually we’re all more similar than we realise.
Heartfelt, poignant and a joy to read.
Thanks to Coronet Books for my proof copy. Opinions my own.
Other books by Kate Sawyer: The Stranding