Title: Every Happy Family
Author: Sarah Stovell
Minnie and Bert are over the moon to have their three grown-up children home for the first time in a decade. But having Lizzie, Jess, Owen and the grandchildren under one roof isn’t without its dramas.
Lizzie is off the alcohol (although mulled wine doesn’t count), Jess is juggling a toddler and a newborn, but it’s Owen who has the power to throw a grenade into everything.
It all goes back to something that happened when Owen was a teenager and it involves Nora Skelly – a name you don’t mention in front of Minnie.
With Nora also back in town, the past is about to come crashing into the present. And what better time to revisit old secrets and resentments than around the family dinner table?
Every Happy Family is an enjoyable read about a family with its fair share of issues and the added pressure that times like Christmas can add to an already tense situation. Sarah Stovell does a great job of creating convincing characters who might not be perfect (and some are definitely more likeable than others!), but feel real!
We join Minnie and her husband Bert as Minnie’s children join them for Christmas – Lizzie, Jess, and their brother Owen who hasn’t lived in the UK for many years, plus someone from his past… Owen’s return marks a big moment for the family, though there is plenty of trepidation too about them all being together in one room.
The plot jumps back in time to when Owen and Lizzie were children, to give us more details about what happened to the family leading up to Owen leaving, and back to the present day.
The way the characters interact as a family, and also with other people they’re close to as well as their shared, fractured history, forms the basis of this novel and creates an absorbing read. There are emotional and humorous parts, and we see the characters grow together and go through tough times.
Every Happy Family is not an action-packed novel, but rather a fairly slow burner that builds in intensity as we learn more about their history.
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to the publisher, HQ, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.