A Place For Us by Harriet Evans
When Martha, a wife and mother of three, sits down one late summer’s morning to write out the invitations to her eightieth birthday celebration, she knows that what she is planning to reveal at the party could ruin the idyllic life she and her husband David have spent over fifty years building… but she has to let her family know what she and David have sacrificed. She can’t live a lie any more.
The invitation goes out far and wide, calling her three children and their families back home to Winterfold, their rambling house in the heart of the English countryside. They are Bill, the doctor; Florence, the eccentric academic; and Daisy, the child who never fitted in.
I enjoyed this book and once I had got the hang of the constant change of characters I was able to follow the intriguing story of a family and its secrets. The main protagonist and the lynchpin of the family is Martha, who at the start of the book is planning her 80th birthday party.
Martha is a credible character, who is both believable and sympathetic and it is really her story that we follow. The plethora of other characters are too fragmented and in allowing each to tell the story from their own point of view; it is difficult relate them to each other.
The differences in time frame add to the confusion, but it is worth persevering as the story unfolds the pieces of the family jigsaw slot together.
This is my first introduction to Harriet Evans and I felt safe and comfortable in her prose knowing that this was going to be my sort of easy read. Nothing too challenging, but also not too predictable. She faces the family issues with a deft hand and is not afraid to tackle dysfunctional relationships, ageing and even bereavement, in a totally pragmatic way.
by Tina Foster
A Place for Us by Harriet Evans is published January 15th 2015 by Headline Review