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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

The House We Grew Up In (Author: Lisa Jewell)

Book Cover - The House We Grew Up In

Intriguing, Intense, Addictive

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Family Drama/Mystery

The House We Grew Up In By Lisa Jewell

They were a tight knit family of least, that's how it used to be. The children, delighted by their mothers colourful, manic eccentricity - except Megan, who even from an early age suspects that that there is something very irregular about her mother's behaviour. Colin had always chosen to see the lighter side of his wife's quirkiness and has decided it easier to humour her.

Easter had always been a major event in the 'Bird' household with Lorelei making the traditional lamb dinner and relishing in her yearly ritual of placing brightly coloured eggs around the lush, green garden of their Cotswold home, for her children to find, even when they were well past the age when Easter Egg hunts were able to evoke the wonder of a small child. There was, of course, the ever present predictability of the instruction to 'save the foils'. No one realised at the time that this was in fact a very tiny part of a much bigger issue that would unfurl within the years to follow, but worse still, following a lapse in judgement whilst attempting to comfort her youngest child, Lorelei unwittingly ensures that Easter is never the same again.

Lisa Jewell writes my favourite genre of novel so spectacularly well, and never disappoints. Hence why, if I am asked to provide a wish list, at least one of her novels is always on it. I only fairly recently discovered her books. I had of course heard of her, but had never read any of her books until last year, perhaps put off by their volume. However, having spoken to a friend who is a big fan of Lisa's books, I decided to take the plunge. I'm so glad that I did.

The dynamics of the Bird family kept me absolutely hooked during that strange period between Christmas and New Year. All the children's wildly differing personalities and the fluctuations of their sibling relationships into adults, made the narrative so gripping. The different way in which, each of them chose to view their parents lifestyles and choices, and how each of them deals with the challenges thrown at them was fascinating. The progression of Lorelei's 'affliction'' as Megan is so fond of labelling it, when in fact it is far from an affliction from her mother's point of view, and something she actually rather derives pleasure from.....although she knows that others would rather she stop was both filled with humour and heartbreak.

Lorelei's situation particularly sparked my interest when it becomes obvious from the outset, the conclusion to her tragic compulsion. I am a very character based reader and am always attracted to a human interest story. The way in which the characters were written in the continuity of their growing up from small children into adults, made them and their journeys so real to me and that I was almost living alongside them.

The dark Easter weekend secret harboured by Lorelei for all those years, was one of the outcomes that I had considered, but the matter once discovered seemed to be brushed under the carpet. I felt as the reader, deprived of the shock that surely must have been felt by the family, when reading the contents of the e-mails between their matriarch and her on-line lover Jim. Lorelei's narrative becomes so sad towards the end, and I felt that deeply. She had at last found the courage to try to make a better life for herself, but left it distressingly all too late. The story is somewhat left open, although the main theme running throughout was concluded, along with the other characters. However, I loved it so much, I would welcome further sequels of this endearing, funny family.

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