Publisher: Vintage Digital (25th August 2015)
Book description –
This book of dark secrets opens with a blaze. On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family – her present, her past and her future. Fleeing from the carnage, stricken and alone, June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke.
In the turbulence of grief and gossip left in June’s wake we slowly make sense of the unimaginable. The novel is a gathering of voices, and each testimony has a new revelation about what led to the catastrophe – Luke’s alienated mother Lydia, the watchful motel owners, their cleaner Cissy, the teenage pothead who lives nearby – everyone touched by the tragedy finds themselves caught in the undertow, as their secret histories finally come to light.
Lit by the clarity of understanding that true sadness brings, Did You Ever Have a Family is an elegant, unforgettable story that reveals humanity at its worst and best, through loss and love, fracture and forgiveness. At the book’s heart is the idea of family – the ones we are born with and the ones we create – and the desire, in the face of everything, to go on living.
My rating 4/5
Did You Ever Have A Family follows the story of those left behind after a house fire/explosion kills four people, Luke, Lolly, Will and Adam. This happens the night before Will and Lolly are due to get married. How do you begin to move on from such tragedy?
Lydia is Luke’s mother. She had him as a result of an affair and she brought him up as a single parent. Luke had an undeserved reputation thanks to a lover Lydia once had, so they hadn’t always been close, but he was all she had. Most people assume the explosion was Luke’s fault, but she knows deep down he can’t have been responsible. She has no proof either way though.
June is Luke’s older lover. He had asked her to marry him several times, but she’d always said no. When she finally decides she will say yes, it’s too late, she’s lost him forever. Not only has June lost Luke, but also her daughter Lolly and Adam, her ex-husband, Lolly’s father. He was only staying at the house because of the Wedding. Lolly had insisted.
Will is also a great loss to many. A bright young man full of potential. Such a waste of life and no-one really knows what happened. Or do they?
This is a great read which highlights how differently people cope with grief and how keeping secrets will only eat away at you. They say life goes on, but some only just manage to exist. Having the support of others, however, and knowing the truth, as well as finally admitting to the truth, can bring some peace. I liked all of the characters in this book and how they were linked in some way to the four who lost their lives. Quite an emotional read, but not depressing. Beautifully written with some lovely descriptive scenes. I would certainly recommend it to others.
With many thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my kindle copy.