Family Album

I love it when someone recommends a book to me and it’s bang on. Thanks Andrea!  Family Album: A Novel (published by Keyporter Books) is Penelope Lively’s 16th novel. There’s something really appealing, to me anyway, about a disfunctional British family. Somehow they’re more quirky and fascinating than off-putting. And the Harper family, with their enormous, old house they call Allersmead, fits the bill perfectly. There’s Mum Alison (overbearing but a gourmet cook), Dad Charles (a writer ensconced in his study clueless to family situations) and 6 kids – Paul, Katie, Roger, Gina, Sandra and Clare. Plus Ingrid, the au-pair who’s been with the Harper family for 40 years. Every character is interesting, and Lively weaves memories with the present day easily. It’s not at all hard to figure out where the reader is in time. That doesn’t happen often in alot of books I’ve read. Usually you have to stop a minute and think where you are, past or present. She is such a good writer that the story flows perfectly. Alison’s “family at all cost” kind of life that she provides under very strange circumstances is reflected upon by all the kids later in life.  And sharing stories of their past makes them wonder… was their family really as weird as they thought it was, or is every family out there just as strange in their own way. It’s a great book, and I think it would make a good choice for a book club. Family dynamics always provoke great discussions.

Leave a Comment