A Very Big House in the Country – Claire Sandy

It is always inevitable that if you put in a big house three very different families, with different values and ideas about life and the way to spend a holiday, you are going to garner some sort of story.

And so this is the case with this novel, A Very Big House in the Country.

The big house opens its doors to Evie, her husband Mike, three children and a dog. Shen, third wife to Clive and their small perfectly kept child and her nanny. Plus Clive’s son from a previous marriage erupting into the holiday. Then there is Paula and Joe plus a very quiet child. There were that many people, especially children I lost track of who was with who and related to whom.

This is very much a tale of ‘life’ and how when being away from home suddenly puts everything into perspective that perhaps you had never seen before. There were some funny moments scattered within the pages as you put people not normally cooped up together in a situation. Balanced out with that by the author which I think she has succeeded with was the more poignant ones and life changing episodes, to remind you that “real life is nothing like the brochure”.

Evie and Mike seem to be a solid but dependable couple, but there is something underlying about their relationship and as the book progresses it looks like it might fall apart.

Shen and Clive live in a perfect world, with the perfect amount of money in a perfectly structured world. However it seems that cannot buy stability and love which is what makes Evie and Mike’s marriage work.

Paula and Joe, seem distant and relations are strained. To the point where Paula sees doom at every turn and in every bush, whilst Joe is seeking solace elsewhere.

Coupled with all of these relationships, we see how the children of differing ages react to each other as they see their parents lives almost played out in front of them.

There are some interesting turn of events as the momentum of the story takes hold and whilst I enjoyed it, it was a book that as I put it down, I was not desperate to want to pick up and see what was going to happen next.

Much as I do not like pigeonholing books, this is a holiday read to enjoy but one that will not leave a lasting impact.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Looking back on this book as I came to review, I was drawn to something I had recently read. How when you read books, what mood you are in, previous experience, current lives affect how you perhaps look at or interpret a book. 

This was the case here, I come from a very small family – we could not raise a crowd in a phone box. We did not go away with other families to share houses on holiday and therefore this experience is alien to me. It is only in recent years that I have been away with a group of girlfriends all very different personalities, that I get the whole concept and I admit to it being rather overwhelming. I am more than happy reading quietly somewhere and dipping in and out of a swimming pool (if there is one) and eating lovely food.

Perhaps that is why I struggled to relate to the book, not having shared these experiences and not having children. It is amazing what affects you when you read a book, most of it I am sure subconsciously.