Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: A Not Quite Perfect Family

By Becky Gulc

One of my favourite authors of recent years is back, with A Not Quite Perfect Family. What’s it all about?

'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 . .' (

This was another fantastic book by this author, with the same warmth, humour, heart and family-focus I’ve come to love from her writing.

Fern is a great lead character. She’s a very pragmatic woman who, despite the challenges life throws at her, is going to live her life to the fullest whilst keeping everything as normal as possible for her children. She’s a great mother and friend and I became extremely fond of her and how she maintains her dignity throughout difficult times.

The house is almost a character itself in the novel, and I loved that. I had a clear picture of it in my mind. With the various characters who come to stay at the house, embraced by Fern and her children, it is central to many of the scenes. I had a real soft spot for it, especially when Fern’s ex Adam berates it.

As I said the book oozes warmth. Whether it’s how Fern manages her teenage son announcing he’s going to become a parent, or allowing the eccentric cleaner who never cleans to come and stay there – I loved it all. There was a busy-household feel to it, full of laughter and love even if not it’s by no means a ‘traditional’ household set-up.

I also enjoyed Fern’s new relationship, I could feel the characters fall for one another, but is it a case or right person wrong time? When Adam has been a fixture in Fern’s life since they were teenagers themselves, it’s certainly not going to be easy to let that relationship go.

Old love letters from Adam were interspersed throughout the novel and I enjoyed going back and seeing what their relationship was like back in the early days, especially as we know little of Adam really, other than him and Fern calling it a day early on in the novel – we don’t really understand why, other than potentially a mid-life crisis. Is the very enthusiastic fan Adam has in the form of Penny really got anything to do with it? Well, we’ll find out, and there are some very funny scenes concerning Adam and his image.

If you haven’t read a Claire Sandy novel, do it! You won’t be disappointed. Also check out the author’s work under her other names, Juliet Ashton and Bernadette Strachan (real name!).

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Claire Sandy:

1 comment:

Janine said...

Sounds really good