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on 17 May 2011
This is the first time I have read a book written by Monica McInerney, and have really enjoyed the story of two families coming together through 'odd' events. I have already ordered another book by the same author and hope to enjoy another good read.
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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2015
The Templeton family are rather a tourist attraction in the town they live in Australia. Husband and Wife, Henry and Eleanor, their four children, Charlotte, Audrey, Gracie and Spencer and their aunt Hope.

Having moved from England they occupy a big house which they have actually turned into a tourist attraction. Opening it up at weekends and embracing the whole past life by conducting tours in full period costume, they survive on the income it brings them but only one Gracie thrives on the idea of Templeton Hall.

Whilst they all pretend to be going back to the past, the family seem to want to break out of it and forge a future, one where they do not have to dress up and answer meaningless questions from ignorant tourists.

Their neighbour, is single mother, Nina and her young son Tom. She once visited the Hall and was treated appallingly and vows never to return. But when a friendship develops between the two boys Tom and Spencer, it seems Nina will have to embrace life with the Templeton’s in it.

As the years pass and events take over some of the characters, Nina it seems will never be rid of the Templeton’s.

This is not my favourite of Monica McInerney’s novels. She always writes great ‘chunksters’ that you lose yourself in, but this is not one of them. It has a very slow start and although I kept reading it was just to see what was going to happen and how on earth the storyline was actually going to escape from the page and be apparent. It took a long time, but even then it was not very clear to see. Not any of the characters stood out for me and at no point could I empathise with them. There were twists I suppose, but for me they were not heart stopping ones or stand out enough for me to recommend this book.

I was bogged down with the plot, the characters and the length and skim read some passages, as I was just trying to see the end of the novel. Perhaps I should have given up? But there was enough of McInerney’s good writing for me to have a small amount of interest to get to the end.

It did pick up in the last quarter or so of the book and I actually found more interest, but by that point it was perhaps too late to save the whole novel.

Don’t start with this one if you have never read Monica McInerney before.
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on 5 May 2016
The Templeton family have emigrated from England to take up residence in a ramshackle grand home in Australia. They renovate the house and then open it at weekends as a living museum with Henry and Eleanor, their children Charlotte, Audrey, Gracie and Spencer and Aunt Hope all dressed in colonial costume from the 1860s. Their next door neighbour is Nina Donovan and her son Tom who is similar in age to Gracie and Spencer.

As a single parent Nina is struggling with the seemingly perfect family next door in contrast to her unsatisfactory life. However all is not always as it seems and the story takes many twists and turns as Nina and Tom get more involved with the Templeton family.

Over the course of 20 years there is much drama which is told wonderfully by Monica McInerney. This is the first book of hers that I have read but it left me keen to read more of her work as I love her style. Despite being 600 pages I read this book far more quickly than usual as I simply couldn’t put it down.

My only criticism would be that the ending, although satisfactory, seemed a little rushed and I would have liked to know more of the long term fate of all the main characters. I wonder if there will be a follow up book one day.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 August 2015
This book follows the lives of the Templeton family and their relationship wih Nina Donovan and her son, Tom. This relationship begins when the Templeton's inherit a large house in Australia and create a living museum there. Nina and Tom live next door and despite Nina's many resolutions not to get involved with the Templeton's, their lives become entwined.

The major problem with this book was the wordiness. There were just so many words, often the same ones - he said, she laughed - with little in the way of rich descriptive vocabulary. There are several occasions where the reader has an incident explained to them from one person's point of view and then has to go back over it from another person's not too disimilar viewpoint and then again when everything is explained to another character. I don't mind seeing the same event from more than one person's viewpoint but only when it is significantly different! The author's use of language is not brilliant. I never really managed to envisage the great Templeton Hall in Australia despite it being basically described. The words just didn't really come to life and left me feeling as if I was looking at a two dimensional stage set as opposed to a 3 dimensional world.

The characters were basically good but nothing outstanding. They were a bit cliched in places especially Henry Templeton who was obviously not a good person but could get away with anything with his charm. Nina Donovan appeared to change in character half way through the book which left me (and some of the characters) slightly startled. She did and said some horrendous things which seemed rather extreme and out of character.

I think this book could be described as fairly basic. The story was dull in places with a few basic plot twists which were obvious. The characters were a bit cardboard and stereotypical and the language fairly basic. Had I been reading this in text form I don't think that I would have completed it but as I was listening to it on an audio book I did complete it. Nothing about this makes me keen to read another by this author.
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on 31 July 2011
I did enjoy to but it was far too long. I felt there were 3 or 4 stories all packed together that was just too much. It does not encourage me to red any more novels by her.
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on 6 June 2012
i thoroughly enjoyed this family saga-lots of twists and turns-couldn't put it down! as a result i have ordered every other title from this author.
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on 27 December 2012
I did enjoy this book. Story of two families. Lots of twists and turns. First book I have read by this author and would read another book by her.
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on 27 March 2013
this novel is a nice read, with a good plot and good characters.I would recommend this book to readers. i brought this book on amazon.
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on 2 March 2014
This book was reccomended by friend when I visited Australia great read, great story wish I was there with family and friends.
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on 16 September 2013
I am still reading this book but I love all Monica McInerney's books and this one isn't disappointing me. Another good yarn
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