The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
|The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: How well do you kinow your neighbours? THe residents of Pleasant Court think they know them pretty well, but they're in for some surprises. An engaging and well-told story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Pleasant Court is a cul-de-sac a few minutes from the beach in Melbourne. Kids play in the street and it's the sort of place people aspire to. Certainly that's how the families who live there feel and there's a good sense of community. Ben and Essie are glad that Essie's mother is living next door as Essie had a mental breakdown three years ago when her first daughter was having difficulty sleeping. Mia's come through that stage, but now there's Poppy, who's been the perfect baby for the first six months of her life, but is just starting to be difficult. Ben, in particular, is pleased that he can rely on Barbara to keep an eye on the situation whilst he's out at work.
Fran has two children too and they're not far away in age from Essie's kids, but you couldn't say that the women are close. It looks as though Fran likes to spend her time running, but it's the only way that she can push her problem to the back of her mind. She wants to tell her husband, Nigel, about it, but she daren't. Ange and Ollie are the couple who want to make Pleasant Court an aspirational address: well, it's Ange actually. She's an estate agent and it's her that brings most money into the family coffers. Ollie's a photographer who specialises in family portraits. He's also got a wandering eye.
The problems were all there before Isabelle Hetherington moved into Pleasant Court, but somehow she seemed to magnify them, push them into the open. Why would a single woman with no children move into such a big house? Could she be gay? Why do the people she says employ her say that they've never heard of her? Why is she so interested in missing children? Essie seems very taken by her, but Barbara - older, wiser Barbara - is suspicious. Could it be because Essie almost seems sexually attracted to her?
I was expecting a fairly light story (I had 'Women's Fiction' pencilled in as the genre) about how we never really know our neighbours but was delighted to find that instead I had a tightly plotted novel which dealt sensitively with some delicate issues such as mental problems particularly in the months after a woman has given birth and infidelity. Characterisation is particularly good: it was a real pleasure to see how the personalities developed as I read. Characters who seemed annoying showed hidden strengths whilst the ones who looked near perfect showed up with some serious flaws. The plot didn't work out the way I was expecting, either - which is always a treat. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more from Melbourne we can recommend Nine Days by Toni Jordan.
You could get a free audio download of The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth at Amazon.com.
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