The Chamberlain family used to be close.
Charlie and Daphne were happily married, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick were inseparable. But then, inevitably, the children grew up and their own messy lives got in the way.
Since Daphne died, Charlie can’t help but think about happier times for the Chamberlain family – before his children drifted apart. His wife was the family’s true north, and without her guidance, Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.
For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again. And by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.
So, for the first time in a long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.
It’s only ten days . . . how bad could it be?
Families, love them or hate them most of us are part of one. Some families are close, some see each other occasionally, and it is very rare to find a family that doesn’t have its issues.
The Chamberlain family were no different, and that is what I liked about Noble’s creations. Each character was real, someone you could come across in everyday life, they were all so different, all had their own problems, problems that we all could face at sometime.
What was rare, was the fact that I didn’t dislike any of the characters, when usually there was always one that got on my nerves, or whom I didn’t have any feelings towards.
Charlie, widower and head of the Chamberlains’ was the Dad, Grandad you always wanted, except he didn’t think so, and you loved his attempts to pull his family together, to celebrate his birthday, but also to try and fix his children, to make life better for them.
Yet, you knew it wasn’t only up to him and Noble gave us great insights into what it means to be separated and replaced by a younger model, or to be left a young widower with a full time job and three young children. She gave us teenage angst, as Ethan coped with his parents separation, but also the joys and unhappiness that comes with young love.
It wasn’t all unhappiness, they were moments of pure joy, of finally finding that one person that made you complete, of looking around you and trying to fix those around you. Heather was that person, the outsider, the brash, perfect American who had to work so hard to fit in. I loved the role that Noble gave her, the unknown, but ultimately the fixer, as she applied the glue that appeared to stick them together.
Now you might think that a novel such as this could be quite saccharine, full of cosy cliches, but it wasn’t. It may not have been complex with tonnes of subplots, but it did explore human emotion, how life can stop us in our tracks, make us reassess, and give us hope, that there is light at the end. It was this simplicity that I loved, the pull of a damn good story, that was heartwarming and sincere.
I would like to thank Michael J Books for a copy of The Family Holiday to read and review and to Ella Watkins for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet Weekends, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, The Girl Next Door, The Way We Were, Between a Mother and her Child, Love, Iris and The Family Holiday. Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbands is her tenth novel.