Author : Alison Jameson
Pages : 376
Publisher : Transworld Digital
Publication date : June 8, 2017
On the day Midge O’Connor comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.
Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family binds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?
Bird Keegan is a farmer and a loner. The only two people he’s in regular contact with are his two sisters, Margaret and Olive, and even those weekly visits are incredibly awkward for all of them. But Bird seems to be mostly okay with his lot in life.
Margaret had her heart broken at a young age and never recovered. Now in her late 40’s, she lives with her sister. But Olive may like to change a few things about her life while she still can. Then one day, Midge enters their lives and things will never be the same again.
Midge is a young woman who grew up in dire circumstances. With an abusive father and a submissive mother, all she wants is to save up enough money to go to America and start a new life.
Bird and his sisters are stuck in an endless rut of routine and solitude and it’s Midge who will break down the barriers and make them realise there’s more to life than the farm and their small Irish village.
I feel I was probably not the right audience for this novel. This Family of Things is beautifully written but I found it very slow and quite depressing. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters in this isolated Irish community, who are all alone and miserable in their own way, even if they don’t know it themselves. There were scenes I felt were written so complicatedly that I couldn’t truly understand what was happening. And while part of me understood how the story ended, it also left me a bit disappointed as after having invested so much time in the characters, I wanted something else for them.
However, the author has a wonderfully descriptive and evocative writing style, really bringing the town to life with beautiful imagery. I could almost feel the sense of claustrophobia of being so secluded and having everyone know your business. And while I couldn’t relate to the characters, they were believable and realistic.
I have no doubt this novel will appeal to many other readers. Sadly, it just wasn’t for me.
Many thanks to Rosie Margesson and Transworld for my advanced copy of this book, which I chose to review honestly.
This Family of Things was published on June 8th.