Happy Families – Janey Fraser

This rather chunky novel features three families who are all interconnected and all have stories to tell both individually and together.

Bobbie is that stressed mother you see in the supermarket, whose kids are running around with no thought for the items on the shelves or anyone else for that matter. Trouble is Bobbie is a good mother, it is just she seems to have no support from her husband and her sister-in-law seems to think she is no good. Then there is the chance to partake in some parenting classes – perhaps that might give her the clue she needs to crack her children’s behaviours and create a happy family.

Pamela is Bobbie’s sister-in-law. And her family is perfect. her husband is perfect. They live is a perfect house. With the perfect amount of money coming in, to maintain a lifestyle. perfectly well-behaved children. In fact Pamela is the ideal person to be running the parenting class. But Pamela is far from perfect and the happy family is just a myth.

Vanessa thought she had gone past the family stage. She readily admits that she was not a good mother and has not seen her daughter in years, expecting that the decisions she made were the right ones, Vanessa’s daughter has not been in touch. But just as Vanessa seems to be getting back a life and some romance. She has to be a parent all over again, when her granddaughter is left on her doorstep. Parenting has changed, so a parenting class seems a good idea to Vanessa to create the happy family that she missed out in with her own daughter.

And so the myth of a happy family is brought out, torn to shreds and reassembled in this book. The author shows that no one really knows what goes on behind the facade of family life and that there is no such thing as perfect or happy all the time. The characters are all different and work well together and irritate each other as much as they did me as a reader. The children are captured well and show how much they know and can pick up from the adults around them. There were some surprises in the book which I did not see coming, but there were also some obvious ones too.

Being a chunky read it is one to get lost in but I did not connect to all the characters, it was if I was watching at a distance. probably not being a parent was the reason I felt like this. Although it did make me realise that I am one of those people who roll their eyes when children are running around screaming and generally not doing as they are told. Perhaps I will be a little more tolerant now?

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to read. I am new to the author and it is not a book I would have picked up in a shop, mainly because of the topic as mentioned in the review above. However I would be interested in her other books at some point.