It is a bit of a lopsided family. Julia after being devoted to her daughter Gwen for five years, where she has been the total and only focus of her life, has fallen deeply in love with James. James brings to the mix his quirky son Nathan. Then there is Iris and Phillip very much part of Julia and Gwen's lives. The loyal and supportive parents of David, Gwen's father and Julia's husband who died five years ago.
The story traverses the pitfalls of such situations - and the frailty and perverse nature of humans who are selfish and only see their situation from a point of view which is advantageous to them and them alone. Gwen cannot bear that her mother is happy and not just happy but incandescently happy with James. She cannot believe it either. She feels abandoned and alone. Nathan is sneering and rude, disruptive and a mess. That eventually two teenagers living in one house will develop feelings for each other is inevitable, but not obvious to the two parents who live there. When it does happen they are shocked out of their wits and each one secretly hates the other person's child. How is a loving relationship going to survive in the midst of so much secret antagonism. Then Iris and Phillip - Iris strong willed and Phillip very mild who springs the biggest surprise of it all. The impact on all is felt and on Iris it is an avalanche of feeling, repulsion and revulsion!!!
The story told from the three different units of couples was complex, interesting, varied and kept me on the go from the first page to the last. Human nature at its best and at its worst.
Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Chatto & Windus.