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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to devour
From the outside, the Bird family looked like they had it all. Happy mum, happy dad and four children living a perfect childhood altogether in their family home with its rambling gardens. Lorelei has always loved Easter in particular, and everything that comes with it, but one year, that idyllic reality is cruelly shattered forever when a tragedy befalls the Bird family...
Published 15 months ago by Chloe S "Chick Lit Chloe"

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome and tedious
I found only 1character in Kayleigh who was earthy or grounded in this saga that is like Enid Blyton has joined the Eastenders writing team. I needed lashings of ginger beer to help abate the nausea from consuming so much syrup!
Published 6 months ago by Florence


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to devour, 28 Aug 2013
By 
Chloe S "Chick Lit Chloe" (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
From the outside, the Bird family looked like they had it all. Happy mum, happy dad and four children living a perfect childhood altogether in their family home with its rambling gardens. Lorelei has always loved Easter in particular, and everything that comes with it, but one year, that idyllic reality is cruelly shattered forever when a tragedy befalls the Bird family. It breaks up their family piece by piece, and soon most of the Bird family live away from each other, without contact and that's how they like it. Only Lorelei remains in the Bird home, but soon all the Bird children are to return home, but it's not quite the home they left behind all those years ago...

The blurb of this book really doesn't give away a lot about the story or the characters, and I think that is part of the charm when you're reading - you really don't know what is going to happen and why it's happening so I'm going to continue that air of mystery in my review. The Bird family are all interesting people, and you can see why their childhood shapes them to be the adults that they turn out to be, especially the eldest daughter Meg who seems most affected by what her mother does. Lorelei is someone I did struggle to warm to, she seems quite an eccentric person and as things about her are revealed, I was less and less sure about her, and how she could rationalise to herself what she was doing, not only to herself but her family as well. Her relationships with everyone are affected by what she does, although of course it isn't her fault, but it is sad to see a family fall apart over such things.

The book takes place of a time period of around 30 years, flicking between the present day and what the Bird children are currently up to, and this is interspersed with visits to their past, to their childhood and the tragic event that took place one Easter. This event is quite shocking, but Jewell deals with it in such a raw and realistic way, you almost feel the grief along with these characters. It is Lorelei's reaction that sets her apart from the rest, and really sets the tone for the rest of the novel where she is concerned. I did cringe slightly as I read the scenes in the past, where Lorelei was perhaps embarrassing as a mother, and you can understand why her children found it difficult to want to be with her, I really found myself sympathising with Meg who hasn't had an easy life, yet I found Beth and Rory to be less sympathetic, and I really wanted to give them a good talking to!

The vivid descriptions of the Bird house, both in the present day and the past, are fantastically written by Jewell, and you can very easily view it in your minds as the children play in the garden, Lorelei cooks Easter dinner for them or in the later days when Meg returns to her home. It's sad to think what happened to the home, but Jewell writes its decay so well, you feel sad when you read about the state it has gotten into. Jewell covers a very real and serious issue within this book, and it certainly isn't a happy go lucky read. However, it is an emotional read that is very realistic in its portrayal of a family falling apart, and Lorelei's condition as well, and while at times I found it to be quite hard to read, I was utterly glued to it and couldn't stop reading, it was riveting. Jewell has written a superb book here that I heartily recommend, I loved it, and I think it's one of those books that will stay with you long after turning the final page. Brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so I knew the story would be brilliant, and I was right, 29 July 2014
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As the mother of teenage twin boys, I found the tragedy in this book quite harrowing, to the point that I wasn't sure whether or not to continue reading it. I'm a huge Lisa Jewell fan, so I knew the story would be brilliant, and I was right. I'm so glad I carried on. While the tragedy is a very important part of the storyline, it doesn't dominate the whole book and doesn't make for depressing reading.

The Bird family is a happy one. The mother, Lorelei, is determined to make her children's childhoods perfect, unlike her own, but she is already battling her own demons. When tragedy strikes the family, those demons eventually take over.

As always, Lisa Jewell's characters feel real. At times, I felt sorry for them, admired them, pitied them and felt furious and exasperated at them! We see each of them trying to cope with their grief and with Lorelei's strange behaviour, (not to mention their own relationship issues) in their own, individual ways. Sometimes this brings them closer together, at other times it alienates them from each other. Through present day storytelling and childhood memories, we discover family secrets and get to know each character as a unique person, with both good and bad characteristics, as well as being able to see how the family evolves as a whole.

All in all, a fantastic read, with believable characters and an element of mystery to the storyline. Once again, Lisa Jewell had me hooked. It was one of those books where I faced a dilemma - I couldn't wait to read more, to find out what became of the characters, but I didn't want the book to end!

Now I can't wait to start reading "The Third Wife".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and fascinating., 7 July 2014
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Meet the Bird Family
All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden.
But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart.

Admittedly I have never read a Lisa Jewell book before – which tends to make people frown at me – so when I received The House We Grew Up In as part of a Goodreads Giveaway I was very excited. And boy, was this good or was this good?

Jumping between past and present we meet the Bird family. In the past, we have a seemingly idyllic childhood – Easter egg hunts, a laid back and relaxing lifestyle, full of fun and laughter and togetherness. Jump forward in time and the family are separate and fractured – as we begin to discover why, and watch them try and put themselves back together, it is emotional and fascinating reading.

Filled with a plethora of intriguing and very real characters, this was a wonderful reading experience. At turns sad, funny, unbelievably emotional and always compelling it was one of those novels you force yourself to put aside occasionally so you can savour the moment you come back to it – and of course, make it last just that bit longer..

I think my favourite pair have to be the enigmatic and very troubled Lorelei, offset by steadfast and opposite daughter Meg – as a real insight into how our upbringing can affect us, Meg is an almost perfect example for many reasons – having said that Ms Jewell manages to make every single character here deliciously captivating. As we see how each one reacts to tragedy, there is a depth and resonance to it that you don’t find in many family drama’s and I was totally hooked throughout.

Pyschologically speaking we have a look into a very real problem faced by some people – I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the story – but that part of the novel is obviously well researched, absolutely fascinating and told in a genuinely moving way. Some of it did bring tears to my eyes.

Overall a fabulous and poignant tale of family – immediately putting Lisa Jewell on my must read list. Indeed I am reading “The Third Wife” as we speak – so I daresay you will be hearing about that one soon.

**Book received via a Goodreads Giveaway Thank you ***
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the story I was led to expect ..., 20 Sep 2013
By 
A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I have to say I found the reviews in the product description completely misleading - I have to wonder if the people who write these reviews sometimes don't actually read the book. This is not really a story about a happy family torn apart by an unexpected tragedy, it's really much more about how a family cope with having a mother who is a hoarder and how this escalates throughout her lifetime. The blurb makes it sound like a bit of a weepie but in fact it's quite an edgy look at a family most of whom are pretty dysfunctional with a rather disturbing undercurrent - it reminded me a little of a modern 'Bouquet of Barbed Wire' and none the worse for that!

It's interesting to speculate what it would be like to have a parent like the ones featured on telly in 'How clean is your home' and 'Britain's worst hoarder' and I think Jewell does a really good job in showing some family members enable Lorelei's obsession and how only one daughter sees the real issues involved. She has clearly done some research and gives the hoarder a chance to express the fears and insecurities the lie behind her obsession- but I'm afraid that I found it hard to sympathise and thought- just throw the stuff out or take it to Oxfam!

I did find this quite a page turner - the inherent fascination of the subject matter and the various twists and turns in the plot kept me reading but overall I didn't think it had quite the warmth of her earlier novels. Jewell's novels tend to focus on the importance of family connections - but this family was so broken that the feelgood ending didn't really work for me. Still a cracking good read, though maybe a little overpriced on kindle ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome and tedious, 15 Jun 2014
I found only 1character in Kayleigh who was earthy or grounded in this saga that is like Enid Blyton has joined the Eastenders writing team. I needed lashings of ginger beer to help abate the nausea from consuming so much syrup!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic book!, 26 Aug 2014
I absolutely loved reading this book! I have read several of Lisa Jewell's other books and I think this is her best by far.
After a slightly slow start I was soon hooked and couldn't read quick enough. I would probably have read it in one sitting if I didn't have 4 children and it wasn't the summer holidays!

It is a story about the family we are born into and that which we create, it explores relationships on many levels and the process of lifelong learning through experience and the mental and emotional scars so many of us carry. I found the characters and plot so intriguing, I wanted to discover more and more.

It certainly made me reflect upon certain aspects of my life and in my mind that's one of the benchmarks of a great book - the impact it leaves behind.

I highly recommend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of her best books, 20 Sep 2013
By 
Mrs. L. Carter "Lady" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book by Lisa Jewell was okay but by far not one of her best books. I found that I was bored and was scanning some of the pages and not reading them properly as I did not think that the story was very good and it didn't really hold my attention. This was not one of her best books.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How could everything have gone so wrong? 'The Perfect Family' - that unlikely concept, 1 Aug 2013
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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Two close and loving sisters, Megan and Bethan, twin brothers at odds, Rory and Rhys, exciting, vibrant zany mother Lorelei, calm, caring father Colin.

Magazine pretty Cotswold house, with gorgeous garden, Aga, welcoming kitchen, sweet neighbours, all bathed in buckets of constant positivity, praise and appreciation of the good life...

How this all descends into chaos is carefully and cleverly unpicked. Lisa Jewell shows us the complex tapestry pattern from face and back, she builds the tension, plants her plums to ripen, how deliciously magnificent the unfolding. Lorelei`s lovely voice speaks so openly through her emails to Jim, her late life online lover, communications so pure and self-aware they are exquisitely touching.

I had't read any other fictional explanation of the hoarding habit Lorelei succumbs to. At first it seems something easy to pass judgement over, however as the story grows you just get it with bells on.

If you like family drama with a contemporary edge this is for you. It reminded me of Anne Fine's writing, especially Telling Liddy. another great story of family crisis.

I saw this book in the supermarket but felt it would be better read on the kindle, being so weighty and thick. Now I wish I had it on paper so I could lend it to all and sundry. I shall have to make do by giving it 5 stars and sending this review out into the world. I'm off to declutter the house, myself!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and well-written novel, 6 Sep 2014
By 
June Doll "June" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite contemporary authors. I have already read her earlier novels "Before I Met You" and "The Third Wife". I have enjoyed all 3 novels immensely. She writes well, she always tells a great story and the characters in her novels are always beautifully developed. This novel is no exception.

The novel is about the Bird family - mother Lorelei, father Colin, daughters Megan and Bethan and twin boys Rory and Rhys. They live in a beautiful house called "The Birdhouse" in a picture-postcard Cotswold village. Their lives appear idyllic. The novel starts in April 1981. It is Easter. It is a beautiful sunny day and the family are spending the day in the garden. Lorelei has organised a Easter egg hunt for the children and the family are all enjoying themselves. Forever after, Lorelei will remember this day as being utterly perfect and she will always aim to recreate this perfect day.

Lorelei is fey and eccentric, an earth mother and a hippy rolled into one. However, as the novel moves on, we see how her foibles, her charming eccentricities harden into obsessions. Superficially she may seem gentle and other-worldly, but beneath the surface she is controlling and life in the Bird House very much revolves around her.

The novel moves backwards and forwards between April 1981 and April 2011 and all points in between. Easter is used as a focal point and the reader is made to compare each Easter with that perfect Easter in 1981. As we move forwards from 1981, we see the disintegration of family life. The perfect family gradually becomes a family which is wildly dysfunctional. A tragedy in 1991 exacerbates the process. It would appear that every family member needs to escape from Lorelei and her determination to control all of their lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 2 Sep 2014
Lorelei is a strange, but cheerful mother. She loves rainbows, Easter and bright colors and likes to keep things that other people would throw away. Her husband and three of her four children also see her collections as part of her charm. They are all pretty happy in their chaotic house, until one day something awful happens. The youngest son, Rhys committs suicide by hanging himself in his bedroom. Slowly the family starts to fall apart until there's nothing left for Lorelei but a house filled with so much junk she can barely live in it anymore. She's on her own and she dies alone. What happened to this once so close family?

The House We Grew Up In is an intense read. Lorelei's hoarding is a devastating problem and it was described in a beautiful and compassionate way. The family members all make their own mistakes, they're just humans who have a lot of baggage. All of the three remaining children deal with the loss of their brother in their own way. They aren't good for each other and they aren't there for one another at all, but they are family. Which basically means they need to stay in touch at least every once in a while. Slowly Lisa Jewel reveals their stories and secrets. She's written this novel in such a clever way. Lorelei is the center of everything, she's a special, sensitive and eccentric woman who has to miss everything and everyone she loves so much in the end. I admired how everything in this story came together eventually. There were no loose ends and it all had a reason. This book is really impressive and I'm glad I had the chance to read it.
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