Happy Families by Janey Fraser

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Happy Families by Janey Fraser

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A fun and entertaining look at what parenthood is like in three families, this is an easy read with lots going on (in a good way)
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Arrow
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099580850

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Happy families are, contrary to popular belief, not all alike. Bobbie is a working mum of two children who we’ll call ‘spirited’ for want of a better phrase. Her husband works late a lot so she’s the one left trying to juggle running the house with wrangling the children and still fitting in her own job. Andy is dad to two teens who are perfectly behaved, or at least they are during the rare moments he spends at home. His wife Pamela is a goddess, and a Perfect Parent to boot. He’s a very lucky guy. And then there’s Vanessa, who feels her mothering days are behind her until her young grand-daughter comes to stay…and doesn’t leave.

This is the story of all these families, and their interconnected lives. Set around the premise of parenting classes at their kids’ school, the three take it in turns to narrate their parts of the tale, which become more and more connected as the pages pass, until really you have one big story rather than three individual ones. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into, which explains the length of the book because new jobs, new babies, work problems, drug problems, affairs and people disappearing off here, there and everywhere take up a fair bit of space. And yet, it didn’t feel like a ridiculous soap opera, in part because there were enough characters to spread the drama out between, and in part because some, but not all, of the issues weren’t quite as they seemed. As they say, when you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’, and there were certainly some assuming asses here.

I liked and disliked the abrupt switches from one narrator to another, invariably at a cliff-hanger of a moment . The frustration was certainly satisfying, and made me want to keep reading to find our 'whodunit' so to speak, but because some of the sections were long, and because there was an extra narrator to the typical two, I sometimes forgot what I was so excited to find out about by the time it got back to that character. Generally, though, this was a book I enjoyed. The characters seemed nice and normal, with lives that you could relate to. For all the naughty behaviour, you got the impression that these parents really did love their kids and want what was best for them. The kids’ characters were integral to the story, and well developed, not slotted in to make a point, and they were really fun to get to know.

The book was well paced with lots of funny anecdotes that I’m sure anyone who has ever spent time with young children will appreciate and while it wasn’t a detective story, per se, there were a few mysteries for the reader to uncover as the book progresses.

I’ve not read The Playgroup but based on my experience of this, and what our reviewer thought of that earlier work by the author, I need to check it out. It sounds like both that and this are easy to read but intricate stories with well developed and well thought out plots, likeable characters and realistic scenarios. I’d recommend you check out either. Or both.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill and The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill both come from one of my favourite 'parenting' authors, and would suit those who like the sound of Fraser's books as well.

Buy Happy Families by Janey Fraser at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Happy Families by Janey Fraser at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Happy Families by Janey Fraser at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Happy Families by Janey Fraser at Amazon.com.


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