Hello to you and hello to the end of the week. Even though this has been a four day working week, those four days had the same scope and volume of work for me than a standard week. So I feel a little bit like I’ve lived through a tornado this week. So as always, grateful for the weekend and some time away from Teams meetings and project plans!
Thank you to @hqstories for this advanced copy of Every Happy Family by Sarah Stovell in return for an honest review. Every Happy Family was published on 30th March 2023 and you can get a copy here.
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?
General Thoughts 🤔
I was really looking forward to getting to this book and I wish that I wasn’t so behind on my ARCs and therefore could have gotten to it quicker. I really enjoy a family drama book and wow was this family leaking drama from its pores. There were secrets on top of secrets that inevitably all came spilling out at the end, but what I found most interesting was each of the character’s reactions and how they dealt with their broken relationships with one another.
All of the family members in this story managed to pull on my heart strings at some point along the way. The secrets they were carrying were far bigger than “I stole my sisters favourite top and ruined it” and I found it completely understandable that some of the characters were reluctant to engage in the family get together.
Owen broke my heart in two. He had been through so much at such a young age and I don’t think that anyone would hold his decision to escape his family and home town against him. I think he had to do it for his own mental health and for the chance to have a functional and stable adulthood. I thought that he was extremely brave to go back home and how the story ended for him had me so upset.
I think the character that I admired the most was Lizzie. She had zero effs to give about what anyone thought about her, but saved all of those effs for caring and protecting those that were close to her. She was young when the family went through turmoil, but I thought that she handled it all very maturely. In her adult life, she had been through trauma but still managed to hold it all together for the sake of her daughter and I massively commend her for that.
Writing Style ✍️
This is the second Sarah Stovell book that I’ve read (see my review of Other Parents here) and I loved it just as much as the first. The book was filled with just as much drama but it was more focused on a smaller pool of characters. Personally, I found that it increased the intensity of the experience and I really enjoyed getting close to this family.
The multiple POVs of course thrilled me, my favourite kind of story to read. I liked that we got to hear the perspective of every family member at least once and the insight that gave to the family dynamic and how they each interpreted events slightly differently.
Conclusion & Scoring 🎖
This was a domestic drama that was perfectly paced, had a fantastic plot line and had me hanging off every word. There was a character in there for everyone; such a wide spread of personalities within one family. Everything about this book was a warm reminder to me that every single family is dysfunctional, they all have their problems and there is no such thing as normal. If you’re looking for a book to binge that is full of emotional ups and downs then I highly recommend Every Happy Family.