If you’re one of those people who is dreading the family reunion that is Christmas Day you need to read this book. It depicts this hilariously from the stress of preparing the meal just right so everyone is pleased with the bite of the sprouts to sitting around the table trying not to upset one family member and avoiding eye contact with another.
Shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016, Enright’s story follows an Irish family over the years and across the world. The book is best read as short stories of each of the children woven together at the end when they are congregate for the Christmas meal on hearing of their widowed mother’s plan to sell the family home.
Each of the children are dealing with their own demons (from cancer to failing careers) however, it seems none of them confide in one another. Isn’t that true of modern family nowadays? When the mother disappears one night the children all bind together to find her in a somewhat unconvincing climax. The ending aside, each of the stories of the children are engaging and raw. Enright has a talent for invoking the small yet significant feelings of our time: this book could not be more relatable.
Perhaps the best example of this is how Enright hilariously describes one of the children’s (now an adult) Christmas shop:
“It was 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and the supermarket was like the Apocalypse..The bill came to four hundred and ten euros, a new record. She thought she should keep the receipt for posterity“. However, as she goes to the car she realises she has forgotten the sprouts her mother would require – no-one, she notes, ate them – but back she goes for the second shop. As she drives home she realises that she has forgotten the potatoes she “thought of pulling over to the side of the road and digging some out of a field, imagined herself with her hands in the earth, scrabbling around for a few spuds.”
Enright’s novel had me in fits of laughter and fall in love with the family. For who could not relate to a dysfunctional family cringing over the thought of a Christmas dinner together?
Recommended for: those who think they have a tough family!
Favourite quote: “Rosaleen was tired of waiting. She had been waiting, all her life, for something that never happened and she could not bear the suspense any longer.”
Thanks for reading this – I hope you enjoyed it!