family drama

All posts tagged family drama

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Published November 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Moons Of Jupiter all about?:

The Moons Of Jupiter follows our protagonist Janet as she visits her father in hospital and comes to terms with the probability of losing him.

What did I think?:

I’m fairly familiar with Alice Munro’s work having read and enjoyed her short story collection, Too Much Happiness a few years ago. However, I often find that a book of short stories by one author has peaks and troughs and there always seem to be some stories that you favour whilst others seem to lack that extra something. It’s perfectly obvious (even to the non-analytical short story reader like myself) that Alice Munro is a talented author and a master of her craft and The Moons Of Jupiter is quite a clever little tale with multiple hidden meanings all revolving around the importance of family and how we re-analyse our own close relationships during times of crisis.

In this short story, our narrator is Janet and she is visiting her father in Toronto General Hospital after he has been told he has a very serious heart condition. The surgeons are willing to operate but make it quite clear to them both that his life expectancy is very much reduced. As well as (or maybe because of) all of this, Janet begins to look deeper into the relationships with her own children, Nichola and Judith which haven’t been plain sailing for one reason or another. After a trip to the planetarium and a heart-to-heart with her father before his operation, Janet begins to put things into perspective and feel grateful for the small moments in life and the love she has for her family.

If you haven’t read any Alice Munro before and you’re looking for something that is quite fast-paced beware, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy the intricacy of family relationships then this is an enjoyable little read. Personally, I have mixed feelings. I love the sentiment expressed in the story and the writing is obviously that of an author at the top of her game but….(and this is probably going to come out all wrong!), I appreciate a short story that I can get my teeth into, that plays on my mind and I have to think about, and with The Moons Of Jupiter it felt like I had to think too hard to discover what the author was trying to say. I fully admit that after finishing I had to google the story just to make sure I had got the right end of the stick and I had, thank goodness but for a little while, I felt a little bit stupid. I don’t tend to like stories where I have to analyse too much and with this one, it almost felt a little too clever for me and I hate feeling that way! On reflection though, when I had confirmed what the story was trying to say, it did make me look at it in a more positive light and I appreciated all the nuances the author used.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

 

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Blog Tour – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Published November 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

What did I think?:

Little Fires Everywhere has been out in America for some time and has had so many excellent reviews from bloggers/book tubers whose opinion I trust. Little, Brown publishers has actually brought forward the release date of this novel because of the hype it has been getting, Reese Witherspoon has even optioned the book for an upcoming television adaptation. After the huge success of the Big Little Lies adaptation that she was involved in producing, I’m one hundred percent certain it’s going to be fabulous. So when the publishers contacted me and invited me to be part of the UK blog tour, I quite literally jumped at the chance and I’m so glad I did. Little Fires Everywhere is a novel that deserves all the hype and much more. I don’t often go on Twitter and wax lyrical about how great a book is that I’m currently reading but with this one, I simply had to. This novel is quite simply unputdownable and I have to admit, I neglected so many other things I could have been doing just to lose myself in the wonder of Celeste Ng’s writing and intriguing characters.

Little Fires Everywhere is primarily a novel about families but the issues explored in this astounding novel run much deeper than that. It’s the story of the Richardson family – Elena, her husband Bill and their four children Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy in a community that is proud of its impeccable values. Everything is run like clockwork, there are certain rules to abide by and standards to uphold including what colour to paint your house and where exactly to put your rubbish bins! However, Elena’s perfect world is shaken to the core when she decides to take on a “deserving” tenant from a lower socio-economic background and Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl come whirling like a typhoon into their lives.

This is also the story of a little Asian baby who is abandoned by a fire station, then adopted by a rich couple in the community as all chaos breaks loose when the child’s birth mother begs for her to be given back and Mia and the Richardson’s end up on opposing sides of the argument. Much more than this, Little Fires Everywhere is a tale of motherhood, the secrets we keep from those we love the most, the dramatic fallout when secrets come to light and how money can sometimes buy you a completely different (but not necessarily better) life.

I could go on and on about the plot of this novel but I really want everyone to read it and find out for themselves. It covers so many more issues and themes than I’ve discussed here and many times as I was reading, I felt I had to put the book down briefly just to fully absorb everything the author was telling me. At times, I was personally invested in what happened to some of our characters and at these points, it was an emotional, quite heart-rending experience. My favourite thing about this book however was the characters who are just drawn with such exquisiteness they could almost leap off the page and be real people. They’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (which would really annoy Elena who strives for perfection at all times!) but that just makes them more believable and instantly more interesting to read about. I haven’t read Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, but after the sheer gorgeousness of this novel, I think you can guess what I will be buying ASAP!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Find Celeste on GoodReads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/164692.Celeste_Ng

On Twitter at: @pronounced_ing

On her website at: http://www.celesteng.com

Thank you once again to Grace Vincent and Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Little Fires Everywhere will be published in the UK on 9th November 2017 in hardback and will be available from all good book retailers. The blog tour is running from Monday 6th November until Tuesday 14th November so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35221049-little-fires-everywhere

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Fires-Everywhere-Celeste-Ng/dp/1408709716/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509560237&sr=1-1

The Stranger In My Home – Adele Parks

Published April 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What would YOU do if your child wasn’t yours?

Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks’s new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell.

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose.

What did I think?:

I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Adele Parks at a recent blogger evening hosted by her publisher, Headline and managed to pick up a copy of her latest novel. Thank you so much to Headline for hosting the evening and for providing a copy of The Stranger In My Home in exchange for an honest review. Adele talked to Cleo (from Cleopatra Loves Books) and I about the brilliant new venture she was championing, Reading Ahead, part of The Reading Agency which encourages reluctant readers to pick up a book. A big part of that is asking high profile authors like Adele and others like Rowan Coleman, Jenny Colgan and Dreda Say Mitchell (to name a few) to write a “Quick Read,” which may make it easier for people to start reading by giving them the confidence they may lack. To find out more about this fantastic programme please go to their website HERE.

Now I have a confession to make. I’ve never read an Adele Parks novel before! I have no excuse, don’t ask me why or judge me but I’m extremely glad I remedied that and picked up her latest. Her writing is deliciously darker than I was expecting full of twists and turns, family drama, betrayal and secrets. Our main character is Alison and the focus for the main part is on her relationship with her husband and teenage daughter Katherine, the latter of whom seems to be the most perfect adolescent any parent could wish for. She never gets in trouble, she is kind and considerate, her grades are good, she excels at everything she turns her hand to and her relationship with both her parents is rock solid.

Well as you’ve guessed from the synopsis, unfortunately things don’t stay this perfect for long. Alison’s world is shattered when one day a stranger turns up on her doorstep and insinuates that she may have brought the wrong daughter home from the hospital i.e. their babies were somehow switched. To top it all off, there is worse news to come for the entire family, something that devastates them all and could have a huge impact on their lives, especially Katherine’s. Alison is determined not to treat Katherine any different. After all, she has been her parent for the last fifteen years and Katherine her child. However, she knows that something this huge cannot be ignored, particularly when her biological child has been living with another family all these years and appears to be everything Katherine is not.

That’s all I really want to say about the plot as I’m very fearful of spoiling it. One thing I must say is do not take this story on face value alone. It is much deeper and murkier than you would think and the places that Adele Parks takes the characters may be quite different to what you would anticipate! This was definitely the case for me. I was shocked and surprised in equal measure but throughout it all felt so invested in the characters and the story-line. Nothing is what it seems, no-one is perfect, mistakes are made and secrets are unearthed. This is an exciting, well paced read that I thoroughly enjoyed and I’m so glad to be saying that this will not be the last I read of Adele Parks.

Would I recommend it?: 

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Talking About Moving by Jenny Eclair with Chrissi Reads

Published March 17, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Edwina Spinner has lived in the same house for over fifty years. It used to be a busy, crowded family home but now Edwina lives alone and it has grown too big for her. She has decided to sell it.

The young estate agent who comes to value the house sees potential. Knock down a few walls, add a wet room. ‘People like a project.’ But as Edwina takes him from room to room, she is transported back to her old life as a young mother. Back to her first husband Ollie and their twins, James and Rowena. Back to lies and dark secrets and to a stepson whose name Edwina cannot even bear to speak aloud.
As Edwina’s story unravels she is revealed as a complex and intriguing person. Not just the ‘frail old lady’ trapped in her dated house, but a woman who has lived an extraordinary life, full of love and tragedy. Why is she now so alone? What happened to Edwina’s family all those years ago?
Moving – Jenny Eclair’s fourth novel – reveals a writer at the height of her powers. Gripping, heart-breaking and laced with black humour, it is a novel of family secrets, shocking betrayals and most of all, of home.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions of the author prior to reading the book? 

BETH: I was certainly curious about her, especially as it described her background as a comedian and I found myself very pleasantly surprised I have to say! I’m not sure what I expected from the novel before going in but what I got by the time I had finished was a story that went much deeper than your average “women’s fiction.” Perhaps I thought it might be a lighter read… I’m not sure, but I’m really glad that the story was grittier and involved much more emotion than expected. It has made me really want to check out her back catalogue of work.

BETH: The story is told from three different perspectives – Edwina, Fern and Lucas. Which part was your favourite to read and why?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed reading from Edwina’s perspective. I don’t know if it’s because she’s the first character that I read about or whether it’s just because she was a fantastic, intriguing character. I grew to love her very quickly! I do believe that Jenny created some amazing characters. They were flawed but so interesting to read about.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions after reading the synopsis of Moving?

BETH: Intrigued, for sure. I liked the idea of re-visiting an old woman’s memories by travelling through each of the rooms in a house and I loved Edwina’s part of the novel because of this.  I always like my reads to have a bit more substance in them and the mention of dark secrets and family drama is a nice little hook to spark my attention. I also have to mention that I don’t think the synopsis does justice to the story that lies within this novel!

BETH: Discuss Lucas’s relationship with his mother and how this differs from the relationship he has with his father and step-mother.

CHRISSI:  It was interesting to read about Lucas’s relationship with his mother, it was incrredibly different, but I don’t want to spoil anything. With his step-mother and father, we saw how horrible he could be. He was incredibly bitter and even though he did begin to make amends, he really did put them through the ringer. It was really intriguing to see Lucas’s secrets come to light. We very much see Lucas as a villain, but we slowly begin to realise why.

CHRISSI: Discuss Edwina and the life that she has experienced.

BETH: Edwina is such a fascinating character. She has lived in this particular house for a long time and each room in her house, even ones she doesn’t tend to go into any more seem to be connected with particular memories. She has had two husbands, twin children and a stepson and her family life has seen more than your average share of drama, tension and sadness. I loved that you could see the young woman that she had been in her personality, sense of humour and independence as an older woman and I warmed to her immediately, instantly wanting to know all about her life and what she had been through.

BETH: This novel has been described as “darkly comic.” Did you enjoy the humour within it?

CHRISSI: I did enjoy the humour in this novel. I think we really needed it otherwise it would have been quite a bleak story. I think the humour gave this novel some much needed light-hearted moments which I appreciated.

CHRISSI: The house is a major symbol in the novel. How is the idea of house and home used in the novel?

BETH: The house almost seemed to be a character in itself, especially the part of the novel where we hear from Edwina’s perspective. When the estate agent comes to value her house, she takes him through each room individually (as you do!) and each room has its own chapter with its own particular memory depending on the objects Edwina sees in there, for example. When we come to the other parts, voiced by Fern and Lucas respectively, house and home seem to be somewhat separated. The house seems to fulfil its functional capacity as just a place where you stay, sleep etc in contrast to home being where your family is. The old saying “home is where your heart is,” is probably a very good tag-line describing this novel!

BETH: Would you read another novel by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars