This latest family story from the author of thirteen bestselling novels is exactly what you expect from Catherine Alliott who safely includes us in a contemporary comfortable family unit with the requisite two teenagers, acceptably contently married mother and father and the usual accoutrements of friends and relatives that make up today’s extended family.
The middle-class professional couple, Flora and David, are on a plane on their way back from a short holiday when David is required to practise his medical skills mid-air. This leads to the offer of a holiday in a Chateau in the fashionable South of France which is just and large enough to offer the opportunity for the entire gang to holiday together.
This unites an eclectic mix of characters of all ages who each have their own agenda for a luxurious holiday. Taken out of their Clapham lifestyle with its financial restraints of mortgage and school fees, Flora and David feel free to follow separate paths. Although they take with them the usual family baggage, not just in suitcases, they relax and allow the reins of responsibility to slip. It is not just their teenage daughters and their respective boyfriends, but also their own parents and siblings, who have issues that create sparks and tension.
The dynamics of the group alter with the freedom and sunshine while passions and pressures create some interesting interactions. It is almost as though Alliott has taken her stereotypical characters and thrown them all in the air to see where they land. As the book is written in the first person, we know that Flora is our hero: we see the others through her eyes but we do not always agree with her and her actions.
Most of the cast are well drawn and kept me interested in the narrative; but while there were no great surprises in the end I did feel that they all got what they deserved. This is a book to read on holiday or when you need to relax. It is easy, satisfying and enjoyable.
The book is published by Penguin UK on 26th February 2015 in Hardback £14.99