A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy
Publishing Date: 6th April 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
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 . . .
Heck, guys, I am really not sure why this book is not being shout about from the rooftops! No matter under which pen name the author is writing, over the last couple of years all of the books by Claire Sandy I’ve read proved to me that she is a fantastic writer with an exceptionally sharp observations skills and her stories are down – to – earth but written with tons of dry humour, and this is what I so love. Also, please don’t ask me which book by Clare Sandy/Juliet Ashton is my favourite because there isn’t one – I love them all just the same! I just can’t get enough of her books, guys, they are utterly brilliant and “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was just the same.
Welcome the Carlile family. Fern’s life is perfect – well, sort of. She has a house, great children and lovely partner Adam and no money problems more, as Adam has written a song that is being played all over the TV. But then, suddenly, Fern and Adam decide to split. The plot takes place within one year, starting in June and ending June next year, at Midsummer supper in Carlile’s garden. However, this one year the things go not as smoothly as usually and the party ends in a disaster. During those twelve months there is A LOT happening in the family – as they say, it never rains but it pours, right, so there is not only the temporarily break – up going to blow the Carlile’s family up – there are many other surprises waiting for the unexpecting adults. Each chapter is titled with a month and a name of a dish that Fern and Adam ate for their anniversary, and really, the dishes were a great equivalent of this what was happening in the chapter.
I loved the characters, from the very beginning, even though I had some problems with Aunt Nora, but quickly I started to love her probably most of all the characters. You need a very short “getting used to”- phase to Aunt Nora but then I couldn’t wait for her to enter the scenes and for her remarks, even though there were still moments that I wanted to shush her personally. Fern on the other hand, well, she was a woman wearing her heart on her sleeve. She was the one keeping the family firmly in control, cooking, looking after the bills, sorting out birthdays’ presents, walking the dog, cleaning, doing the laundry… well, shortly, looking after the family, the close and distant one – truly, your typical woman. But – she was exceptionally well written and even though she was so normal, so usual, it didn’t mean she was boring. On the contrary, she was all but boring. Because of the feeling of normality you couldn’t help but root for her and really, Claire Sandy gave this normality a face lifting and believe me, you will all fall for Fern. The way she was dealing with everybody and everything, with the problems, troubles, twists and turns that life was throwing her way was the way I personally would love to deal with them – she was troubled but she was also as cool as a cucumber and even when she was hot inside she stayed cool on the outside.
So Fern just wants to live her life as it is but – sadly – Adam seems to have other ideas. Oh guys, his midlife crisis made me laugh, roll my eyes, cringe with embarrassment and it was so, so entertaining! Suddenly he wanted a life without problems, he wanted to enjoy his second youth and make use of all this money that wham – bam was there to be spent. There was everything you could expect: younger woman, penthouse, diet, leather trousers and being all “cool”.
The children, Ollie and Tallulah, were brilliant. Especially Tallulah, with all of her feminist views, and this only in the lovely age of 8 years old! Go into hiding, Suffragists! It was sweet and hilarious at the same time, because you could just see in your mind how serious she was, and knowing that she’s actually only still a child made it so ridiculously funny.
This colourful group of eclectic characters was brought to life and they made the book so vivid and vibrant. Just imagine, so many different personalities under one roof! Problems, misunderstandings and arguments are recipe for disaster. I bought them all just as they were, even Fern’s “cleaner” Evka – you need to take them with a pinch of salt sometimes but altogether they worked together perfectly and they made the story unputdownable for me. It doesn’t happen often that I fall so much for the characters, and here they were like my own family to me. This bunch of characters care about brilliant dialogues, hilarious one – liners, and shows all kind of different relationships and dynamics. They’re all so unique and so distinctive.
So yes, I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.
This is a story telling us that there are not perfect families out there, that they all have their ups and downs but that the most important thing is to communicate and be there for each other. It was incredibly realistic read, so fresh in its sharpness and down – to – earth observations of everyday life. It also shows that we should live our life just like we want it to live, without worrying or being ashamed of it. It was really a fantastic read, this kind of book that I’d love to be able to read for the first time over and over again. Highly, highly recommended!