It would seem that as we get older, we tend to spend an awful amount of time thinking about the past. Remembering the good old days. The problem with this is that we only focus on how we perceived things and not how they really are. We would like to think, ah, yes, having the entire family again for a big old 80th birthday party would be WONDERFUL because we all love each other soooooo much and we'll all be happy to be together again despite us all living far apart from each other. Plus, old people like to think that nobody ever changes. Everybody is the same way they once knew them. And, of course, we're all a big happy family and that means we still all love each other.
But that's what happens with the main character, Martha Winter, in Harriet Evans' novel, A Place For Us. Martha is planning her 80th birthday party and she wants all 3 of her grown children and all of her grandchildren to be present for the occasion. Never mind that they all rarely talk to each other or, tsk! Visit. Everything's just so lovely.
But her children and grandchildren hate each other. And they're all keeping secrets, too. Secrets they, unlike Martha, would rather keep under wraps. So a large chunk of this novel is spent with them dwelling on their secrets, living out their horrible, unhappy lives and every once a while bickering with each other.
That got old pretty fast. And I really didn't care about their problems. One of them was stupid to stay with an abusive, controlling boyfriend she was dumb enough to get knocked up by. The other one chose to imprison herself in a pathetic fantasy romance with a guy she had a one-night stand with four YEARS ago, and another one is mousing into her chair at a high profile fashion magazine without the guts to take charge of her career and stay on top of trends.
Also annoying were the constant flashbacks. Maybe some readers don't mind them but I really didn't care for them. I basically skipped over them. A flashback here and there is forgivable, but there are just too many in this book. It was kind of jarring because one minute I was in the present and the next minute, sometimes without indication that it's a flashback, I was in the past thinking I was still in the present. Personally, I don't like dwelling on the past; I prefer to stay focused on the present. I have the same preference with the novels I read.
The last straw came, however, when I discovered that a character I actually felt sorry for earlier in the book didn't deserve any pity. Perhaps the author thought this surprise was a nice plot twist, but I was infuriated because there had been NO clue of this sort of thing at all in this character's previous scenes so I felt pretty cheated. It was like the author had set me up. After that, I was no longer interested in reading the rest of the book. I didn't think I could trust the author anymore.
The author probably had a very nice audience figured out for this novel, but I am not a part of that group. If you want me to care about the characters, then next time, give them a backbone. As well as a brain.
From international bestselling author Harriet Evans, an engrossing new novel about a woman who, on the eve of her eightieth birthday, decides to reveal a secret that may destroy her perfect family.
The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.
When Martha, a wife and mother of three, sits down one late summer’s morning to write out the invitations to her eightieth birthday celebration, she knows that what she is planning to reveal at the party could ruin the idyllic life she and her husband David have spent over fifty years building…
But she has to let her family know what she and David have sacrificed. She can’t live a lie any more.
The invitation goes out far and wide, calling her three children and their families back home to Winterfold, their rambling house in the heart of the English countryside. They are Bill, the doctor; Florence, the eccentric academic; and Daisy, the child who never fit in. As the story unfolds, each character reveals the secrets, joys, and tragedies they are wrestling with through the confines of the family. What will happen when Martha finally tells the truth?