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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly realistic
This is a book which has all the ingredients mixed together to tell a great story. In the 1950's Muriel is taken to a home by her mother. Muriel is of mixed race and just four years old. Through Muriel's narration we follow her through her time in the home through to adulthood and the birth of her daughter Rosie. Rosie also narrates part of the book. She is angry on...
Published 11 months ago by C. Bannister

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, thought-provoking story
An author I'd not read before. This is a really good story, with three interconnected threads running through it, which the author weaves skilfully over and under, keeping momentum going for the whole novel. Muriel, born of an English mother but fathered by an American black during the war, is abandoned at four years old and brought up in a home. The depiction of how a...
Published 1 month ago by Mirren Jones, Author of 'Eight...


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly realistic, 14 Aug 2013
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Family Likeness (Kindle Edition)
This is a book which has all the ingredients mixed together to tell a great story. In the 1950's Muriel is taken to a home by her mother. Muriel is of mixed race and just four years old. Through Muriel's narration we follow her through her time in the home through to adulthood and the birth of her daughter Rosie. Rosie also narrates part of the book. She is angry on behalf of her mother, she wants her mother to have been wanted, not to have been brought up in `care' and when Rosie wants something she goes and gets it.

Rosie has been a teacher at a cross-road in life. She gets herself employed as a nanny to a busy businessman who is travelling abroad leaving Rosie in charge of Ella and Bobby. Here we see another side to Rosie, the side that cares about the poor young girl who has no mother, the girl who doesn't get on with her teacher and the girl who is angry and resentful that her family is no longer complete. Rosie takes the children to Kenwood where both Ella and Rosie share an interest in Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a Navy Captain and a West Indian woman. Here is another mixed race child whose life was dictated by her colour. Rosie wants her mother to read her files, to know where she came from but doesn't appreciate that Muriel doesn't share that same need.

This is an interesting look at families of all shapes and sizes and although this is underpinned by the issue of colour there is far more to this story, this story applies to all families. If you like well written books, with characters who matter after you have turned the last page, try this, a definite five star read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for this honest review
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars None, 9 July 2013
This review is from: Family Likeness (Kindle Edition)
Her best novel so far. margaret Forster is one of my favourite authors and Caitlin Davies her daughter is a worthy successor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Family History Novel, 20 July 2013
By 
This review is from: Family Likeness (Hardcover)
Family History is a current obsession with so many of us, and this well crafted novel touches on so many aspects which make the subject so sad and yet fascinating: illegitimacy; race; children raised in care homes and the good and bad behaviour of adults towards children. I thought the ending came too soon - would have like a few more chapters on how life in Pembleton Terrace went on. It's a mystery novel, all the clues are there, but they are subtle, and you need to pay attention. Lovely book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mixed race orphan faces the truth about her past, 16 July 2013
This review is from: Family Likeness (Hardcover)
A beautifully written, atmospheric and very moving account of how a woman and her Mother uncover the truth about her wartime birth as the child of a black American GI. Weaving together with a parallel tale of a mysterious 18th century woman, the story leads to a gripping present-day climax.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Need for a Sense of Belonging 3.5 Stars, 6 July 2013
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Family Likeness (Hardcover)
Rosie is a qualified primary school teacher who, bitterly disappointed, has resigned from her job after failing to win the deputy headship at the school she has been working in for six years. In the street one morning Rosie encounters Jonas Murray: tall, handsome and well-dressed, and out with his two children: nine-year-old, Ella, and toddler, Bobby, struggling to cope by himself. When Rosie steps in and prevents Ella being knocked over by a bicycle, Jonas is impressed by Rosie's quick handling of a potentially dangerous situation and, when he discovers she works with children, he wants to know if she is looking for work. And so Rosie finds herself being employed as nanny to Ella and Bobby, and when Jonas flies off to America for six weeks, Rosie is left in sole charge of the children which means moving into Jonas's handsome, three-storey house in one of the more genteel roads in North London. Whilst looking after Ella and Bobby, Rosie visits Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath, a former stately home, now owned by English Heritage where, amongst the family paintings, Rosie finds a portrait of a richly dressed, young black woman whom, she later discovers was the illegitimate daughter of a member of the English nobility. Fascinated, and feeling a strange kinship with the young woman, Rosie decides to carry out some research into the young woman's life - but Rosie also has several other things to occupy her time, for we learn that her meeting with Jonas was not entirely coincidental, and she has an ulterior motive for moving into the Murray family home...

Running alongside Rosie's story, we learn about Muriel Wilson, a young girl in a small Kent town in the 1950s who, at four years old, is admitted into a children's home when her unmarried mother can no longer cope with bringing her up single-handedly. As Muriel grows up, she learns that her father was a black GI serving in England during the last year of WW2, and she also learns that life must have been very difficult for her white English mother - but, apart from that, Muriel knows nothing more about either parent. Unhappy at the home and unkindly treated by some because of the colour of her skin, Muriel grows up almost friendless and unloved - but what does Muriel's life have to do with the story set in the present day?

Caitlin Davies' latest novel looks at the meaning of identity and of the emotional hurt experienced by those who, in one way or another, feel they have been abandoned or rejected and who feel a strong desire to discover their origins and find a sense of belonging; the author also looks at the damage caused by prejudice and intolerance. Both of these subjects are huge themes for a novel - and Davies does not attempt to examine either of these themes in great depth - however, she has written an involving and informative story that, despite its subject matter, is neither heavy nor depressing. Although the narrative isn't entirely convincing at times and some parts of the plot fall a little too neatly into place, if you are looking for an easily readable, entertaining weekend, bedtime or down-time read which is neither too challenging nor too lightweight, then this could well fit the bill for you.

3.5 Stars.

P.S. Having read this novel has made me interested in visiting Kenwood House as I particularly enjoyed the sections of the story involving the house and gardens. I understand the house is closed for refurbishment until the autumn of this year but details can be found on English Heritage website.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family secrets uncovered, 7 April 2014
This review is from: Family Likeness (Hardcover)
Family likeness
Caitlin’s story moves between three generations in two families – it will catch your attention from the beginning, give you a good read and make you think about the issues it covers – the damage done to children as they grow up suffering loss, separation, stigma and isolation. But it is not an unhappy story, rather a positive one with some surprising twists.

Muriel is the mixed-race, war-time baby of a single mother, left to grow up in a children’s home. The bigoted language of her care records is, unfortunately, all too typical of its time and speaks volumes about why she withdrew into herself, not trusting any adult.

Ella is a present-day, mixed-race, insecure child living in Hampstead whose mother is dead and whose working father leaves her and her baby brother with a housekeeper. Muriel’s daughter Rosie becomes her nanny and precipitates events that move quickly to affect both families. Were her actions deliberate or accidental ? You will want to read on to find out.

Caitlin weaves in a small strand to suggest that there is nothing new in separation from home in childhood. She takes Ella to see a portrait on display of Dido, an illegitimate black girl, taken in the 1700s from her place of birth to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath.

All these sensitive issues are handled very carefully, and it is clear that none of the adults in the story were ever deliberately unkind – they were doing what seemed the right thing at the time or what was the accepted way of dealing with issues. Food for thought there !

I enjoyed this book and (a sure sign of a good book) I thought it stopped too soon. I was left wondering how these people’s lives were changed by the secrets revealed, and about what happened next.

Gill
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5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible journey, 24 Jun 2014
This review is from: Family Likeness (Kindle Edition)
A personal journey for Muriel, Rosie and Jonny 'Rooster'. A bewildered, lonely little girl who is 'different' from the rest. A determined resourceful young woman. A man who was treated badly because of the colour of his skin, but never forgot the woman who he loved and had to leave behind. The story not only covers all the historic aspects, memories and family mysteries, but also brought another family closer together and with a greater understanding of each other and the acceptance of new family members. I loved this book, because I really wanted to know more about Muriels background, having grown up in care myself, also I wanted to find out if little Ella would find peace within herself as obviously she was missing a mother figure and seemed so cross and mixed up, I wanted her to be a pleasant, happy little girl, and finished the book knowing that that would be the case. These were characters that I could really picture in my mind, and could actually feel myself in the house with them and walking with them in Hampstead Heath and exploring Kenwood House. I now want to know more about Dido Elizabeth Bell. I'm glad that Muriel finally learned that she wasn't an unwanted, bad little girl, and that although she could not make peace with her mother, she would have a happy relationship with her father. I would recommend this novel to everyone, especially those that may have a struggle in accepting people of another race without knowing the facts behind actions. I have read many books of very varied subjects, but this is the first book I have ever felt moved to write about and want others to read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, thought-provoking story, 24 May 2014
This review is from: Family Likeness (Paperback)
An author I'd not read before. This is a really good story, with three interconnected threads running through it, which the author weaves skilfully over and under, keeping momentum going for the whole novel. Muriel, born of an English mother but fathered by an American black during the war, is abandoned at four years old and brought up in a home. The depiction of how a 'half-caste' (as she was labelled) was treated in the post-war years is thought-provoking and a shameful indictment of British society at the time.

Muriel's daughter, Rosie, is the main character, arriving at a turning point in her life as she seeks to find the answers to her lineage. She's clever and courageous, but not always likeable for her actions as she determinedly uncovers the truth.

Where the book falls down for me is in some of the other characterisations: Jonas Murrey and his father are not altogether credible yet they are key figures in the story - so there are glitches. But overall a good read and I will follow up on some of her other novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FAMILY LIKENESS BY CAITLIN DAVIES, 28 April 2014
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This review is from: Family Likeness (Paperback)
I cannot put this book down..it is brilliant..and a great read for everyone.It is a must for all Caitlin Davies fans too..don't hesitate to buy a copy for your own collection..
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5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and moving human story, 3 April 2014
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This review is from: Family Likeness (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. It is a rich and utterly compelling narrative that weaves through the lives of Rosie Grey, as she searches for her grandfather, and her mother, who grew up in a children's home. As Rosie explores her family's past and her own identity, the story of her grandfather, an American GI, and the events that led to her mother's abandonment begin to emerge. It is a very human and beautifully written story that gives a poignant and powerful insight into the lives of the many children who were affected by WW2 in this way. Highly recommended!
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Family Likeness
Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies (Hardcover - 4 July 2013)
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