The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

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The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Probably best read after reading The Family Upstairs if you're not to struggle with working out who's who. Lisa Jewell's trademark plotting and characterisation is all there though.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: July 2022
Publisher: Century
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529125795

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In July 2019, Jason Mott was mud larking on the banks of the River Thames when he came across a bag of what appeared to be human bones. Detective Inspector Samuel Owusu and Saffron Brown from forensics were there to investigate. The bones were indeed human: a young woman had been killed by a blow to the head many years ago - probably as long as twenty-five - but the bones had not been in the river longer than a year. There was no identification but the bag contained vegetation, some of which was quite unusual.

Now, you're going to need to pay attention, please. No picking this book up for a quick read and thinking you'll be able to go back to it later because you won't have the faintest idea of who the characters are. There are two people called Henry Lamb, junior and senior, one called Phineas (or occasionally Finn) Thomsen, who will need to be distinguished from Phineas Thomson and some people change their names altogether, for no apparent reason. Best of all, you should have read The Family Upstairs, because this is a follow-up, which isn't made completely clear on the cover of the book. Then you're going to jump about between various time frames, generally between August 2016 and June 2019, whilst keeping in mind that what happened, happened in the last century when we know that three people died. Now there's a fourth. Clear? Excellent!

I hadn't read The Family Upstairs, so I did struggle and I suspect that it won't be advisable to go back and read it now as I will know more about what happens than is good for me. So, how was it as a stand-alone? Well, the writing is exquisite: I was hooked before I got to the bottom of the first page and it was this that kept me reading even when I was struggling to understand what was going on. The characters grabbed me too: forty-two-year-old Henry Lamb Jr describes himself as an unlovable gay man with fading looks and - the more you read about him - you suspect that others will not be more generous. He's an odd mixture of self-satisfaction and self-pity. He's never quite certain what he wants. He thought he was lonely but isn't any happier when his sister, Lucy, and her two children move in with him. Every character comes off the page well and - given the ease with which you can be confused - that's a real tribute to Jewell's skills.

About two-thirds of the way through I had, courtesy of copious notes and family trees, sorted out who was who, who was related to who and who definitely wasn't who they said they were. At that point, the book became a real pleasure to read and I couldn't put it down. If you have read and enjoyed The Family Upstairs you'll find this to be a five-star read. It's a testament to the quality of the book that, despite being confused for much of it, I still gave it four stars. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

I was tempted to read The Family Remains because I really enjoyed Jewell's Invisible Girl.

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Buy The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell at Amazon You could get a free audio download of The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell at Amazon.com.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell Check prices, read reviews or buy from [1529125790 Foyles]. Foyles currently charges £2.99 (first class £3.99) for orders under £25, over which delivery is free. You may also click and collect from a Foyles bookshop at no charge.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell Check prices, read reviews or buy from [1529125790 Waterstones]. Waterstones currently charges from £2.75 for orders under £20, over which delivery is free. You may also click and collect from a Waterstones bookshop at no charge.

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