Thursday, 6 April 2017

Book Review - A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

Amazon UK
Title: A Not Quite Perfect Family
Author: Claire Sandy
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Publication Date: 6th April 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Funny, feisty and all-too-true, A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy is for anyone who loves their family so much they’d just like a weekend away from them.

Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart.

Around the table sits an eight-year-old militant feminist, a pair of teenage accidental parents, and a cantankerous OAP. Fern’s husband needs an extra seat for his spectacular midlife crisis.

Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting. Decisions, decisions . . .

A Not Quite Perfect Family is quite a clever book in that it likens a year in a family to a 12 course meal in a top restaurant, and each chapter which is named after the type of course, gives us another month in the life of the Carlile family, and often has some relevance to the sort of things that may happen in the chapter. 

Fern Carlile lives in Homestead House with her partner Adam, teenage son Ollie and 8 year old daughter Tallulah. On midsummer's day, Fern and Adam announce they are splitting temporarily, which sets off a chain reaction of other events in the family. 

Pretty soon Fern has plenty of other company in Homestead House, as her aunt Nora moves in, Evka her cleaner appears more often, and Ollie's girlfriend spends more and more time there. In addition whenever Fern is dog walking she meets up with a group of regulars and one really stands out to her and offers her a distraction on her feelings towards Adam. 

There is a huge amount of different personalities on display in this cast of characters, all very unique and distinctive,  which makes for some energetic dialogue, and dynamics.  

I especially loved the box of notes that Fern had kept from when she and Adam once broke up many many years ago, which helped show how pure their love once was, before real life got in the way.  Then there is the outspokenness of auntie Nora, the liberal attitude Evska has towards sex and where she tries to find some, the friendship between Fern and Layla (who lives in France), Tallulah who at only 8 is a little feminist, and has an opinion on anything. 

Actually my favourite scene has to be when Tallulah was asking her mum for clarification after her lesson at school about "ess eee ex" and she has a couple of absolutely wonderful questions and imagery about how babies are really made. I was laughing out loud at that! 

A Not Quite Perfect Family is like a fine wine, it got better and better with age (or in this case as the book progressed), and it really does highlight a modern family in every sense of the word. There is so much to love about the story, and I found it to be an enjoyable book. 

Thank you so much to Jessica Duffy at Pan for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

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