This is a novel about a family -the Alldens - who live in a less-posh part of Bath. Don and Emily are the parents, Liz, Lotte,Benjamin and "Special" Clive are their children. Everyone goes to enormous lengths to avoid upsetting Clive, whose rages are legendary amongst the family. He is widely held to be gifted, but the reader gets the impression quite early on that he may, in fact, be subject to some form of mental illness.
The story jumps between time at the start, harking back to a difficult time for the family when Emily's life was in jeopardy whilst pregnant with her fourth child, Benjamin, but then moves forward in time to a time when Benjamin is a child rather than a baby. It never really seems to keep to a logical sequence, honing on significant events like family holidays, application to University, engagements and so on.
The final action is devoted to the time when Emily at an unspecified age, is suffering from Dementia and Don is increasingly finding it difficult to cope. It details their search for a suitable nursing home, acceptable to all the family. It then moves to Emily's lingering death and the gathering of the children at her bedside and ends a year on as they scatter her ashes.
I have to confess that this was not really the ideal novel for me. I quite enjoyed the all too familiar interactions of family life, but I felt the lack of sequence and I wanted to know more of the grown up children, their lives, careers and families. I also found the end section dragged. It is well written, however, and lovers of this type of genre may well find it irresistible but unfortunately it was not for me.