Paul Diana Y

Review From User :

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an e-version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This wry portrait of a dysfunctional family is beautifully written and funny as well as poignant. It is one of a very few novels I have ever read where the central issue is what to do with the oldies, especially if they made your life hell as a kid (and are continuing to do so) and you don't much like them. Indeed Bob and Aida Whitman, the almost unbelievably selfish elderly parents of this family, are amongst the most unpleasant people the reader feels glad they have never met! In spite of this, Aida is such a character that she is a delight to read. Bob-well it's a pity he didn't die much earlier in the book. There is not a cell in his chauvinistic body that is likeable. Their three adult children are all variously damaged by their upbringing and the "things unsaid" throughout their lives. The eldest daughter, Jules, at the expense of her amazingly generous husband and daughter, feels reluctantly obliged to bail out not only her patronizing parents, who continue to lavishly spend money they don't have with a total lack of insight into their changed circumstances, but she also constantly comes to the rescue of her younger sister, who seems to be stuck in her teenage psych. Andrew, the only son, is of course permitted to remain removed from having to deal with his parents in any practical (or emotional) way, although he remains their favorite. Then there are the grandchildren, mostly thankfully so far able to avoid the family dysfunction, although Jules's daughter, Zoe comes close to disaster It sounds like a story that would depress, but no, it is a rollicking good read, with characters that leap off the page, and the moments of poignancy are always anchored with a touch of humour and plenty of chuckles.


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