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  • Wise & Wonderful

    Charlie Chamberlain will soon be turning eighty. Widowed for ten years, he still misses his wife Daphne and frets that because of her death the family has drifted apart. In an attempt to get the whole family together, he arranges a holiday, renting a large house called Candlewood Farm in the Cotswolds, and invites everybody to celebrate his birthday. The reader meets his daughter Laura, recently separated from her husband, and her teenage son Ethan. His son Nick, widowed less than a year ago, is also invited with his three small children, and other son Scott, his new American wife, Heather and her two daughters from her previous marriage. But with the clan all having their respective axes to grind and problems will it be a celebratory event and holiday to remember or forget? This is my second book by Elizabeth Noble, having previously read The Reading Group. Although The Family Holiday was an easy, light-hearted read it also had depth as many of the characters faced huge challenges. In this character-driven story, even though there were many people to get to know, I never felt overwhelmed, and as the story progressed I got to know everyone quite well. The pace was relaxed and comfortable, and I appreciated that the reader was fully introduced to the characters before the holiday started so I knew something of their backstories and bit about their attitudes and beliefs. Many events in their lives were heart-breakingly sad but they were convincingly written and felt realistic. Everyone was well portrayed; I was irritated by some, angry at others, felt empathy, and one or two were downright unbearable or bland, but all had a part to play. The Family Holiday is filled with insight and wisdom, it closely resembles life and incorporates some wonderful moments. Elizabeth Noble can certainly write about family dynamics, in a fun, humorous and engaging way, that isn't sickly sweet. With large dollops of grief, love, trust issues, marriage breakdown and regular family troubles, this was a compelling and winsome read. I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Penguin UK - Michael Joseph via NetGalley and this review is my unbiased opinion.

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