Relative Strangers Paperback – 26 Jun 2012
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About the Author
Allie was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction almost as soon as she could hold a pencil. She studied English and Drama at Birmingham University and has an MA from Queen Mary College, London. She has been, variously, a Production Manager for an educational publisher, a bookkeeper, the landlady of a pub in Yorkshire and the proprietor of a group of boutique holiday cottages in Cumbria. She currently teaches English Literature to adult learners. She has two grown-up children and is married to Tim.
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I enjoyed this book very much. Yes, it had a difficult ending, but as the story was drawing to a close, I figured that it couldn’t end any other way.
I totally ‘believed in’ all the characters, and having experienced our own large family ‘away’ holidays, I could identify with so much of the little ‘naunces’ of the situations! Like cups and glasses left by various members of the family, .... and someone always having to do a sweep and gather them up! I’m glad to say that MY family aren’t as disfunctional as the ones in the book, ..... but that’s what makes it a darned good yarn!
I struggled to decide who was who in the large family and who was Rachel's birth parent.
The book explores the dynamics of family life by gathering together one extended family in a large house for one week.
At first, I was confused by the sheer number of characters but I soon worked out who was married to whom and had which children and which in-laws and which rooms and cars and grievances and grudges.
The book is packed with incident and was a really interesting read. It was a fascinating exploration of relationships: the characters, for the most part, were neither good nor bad, but human, with foibles and faults like we all have.
The ending surprised me. And that’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want to give anything away. If you like surprises, don’t read the blurb because it tells you in which direction the ending heads.
I will definitely read it again at some point; and I have 'Lost Boys' ready for when I have a free week.
As the McKays' week away draws on, the politely concealed tensions between them become more and more apparent; as the family begins to gain the clarity of Truth, its many mishaps - hilarious and sad by turns - begin to foreshadow an explosive climax to the holiday. The reader is left guessing right until the end, and what a spectacular ending it is!
This is a truly compelling read - I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in relationships or family dynamics (or just enjoys a good story!).