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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Good book

I've just finished reading Elizabeth Buchan's Separate Beds. From the cover it looks like something light and frothy but it's actually quite serious and covers a great many problems faced by families today: falling out with nearly adult children, facing up to redundancy in middle age; female breadwinners, caring for children when parents are at work, looking after elderly relatives etc. Tom and Annie have three children - Mia and Jake, twins, and Emily. It is clear from the start of the book that Mia's abrupt exit from the family home five years ago is still having repercussions now and is the cause of the separate beds - actually separate rooms. But Tom's unexpected redundancy from a well paid post at the BBC throws the family into turmoil.

The house suddenly becomes overcrowded when Jake returns home with his small daughter Maisie and Tom's redundancy causes his mother Hermione to move in with them as her care home can no longer be funded. The small irritations of every day family life are recognisably real and even Hermione - the aged relative from hell - has her good points as well as her bad ones. I loved all the characters - faults and all - and wanted things to work out for them. The book provides no trite answers to the problems but shows clearly that family life is based on compromise. I enjoyed it and would recommend this author's thoughtful and thought provoking novels of family life and marriage.

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