THE PERFECT READ FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
It's time for the annual holiday letter from the Gillespie family....
New from the author of The House of Memories
For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....
The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.
Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways…
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Angela Gillespie sits in the South Australia outback station she’s called home since meeting her farmer husband, Nick, in a Sydney bar three decades ago and prepares to compose her annual Christmas letter. But what used to be an enjoyable ritual turns into a gloomy reflection on the sorry state of Angela and Nick’s marriage, as well as the worrisome struggles of the couple’s four children. What would happen if Angela ended up mailing an unfiltered catalog of the Gillespies' past year: a compendium of fears, frustrations, and failure? Bestselling author Monica McInerney (Those Faraday Girls) is a gifted storyteller who yanks you into the tale and spins out her characters’ physical and emotional dramas with infectious warmth.
story is gripping and engaging with plenty of fuel for imagination & thought
I don’t know if you have one of those families, but my mother’s side of the family was famous for their “annual Christmas letter”, containing several pages to catch everyone up on the highlights and minutiae of their own family year. Usually containing a family photo (taken in July) and rife with horrible Christmas sweaters, a pouting child or three, and several cheesey decorations.
Monica McInerney brings us that same feel, with a twist. Angela Gillespie, living on a sheep station in the Australian outback is a sender of such letters. Usually full of lighthearted news, these letters have brought news of her family to near and far for years. This year, however, is different. Taking a few moments to let her real thoughts loose, Angela spills details and airs family laundry that never went further than their own home. Insecurities, doubts, worries about finances, frustrations with an interfering aunt, even her voicing wonder of what might have been.
Angela was writing to air her frustrations, a quick draft never meant to be sent. But she was interrupted by her son’s accident, and her husband Nick, in a moment of helpful hit send. And the story begins!
McInerney brings to light all the issues that are prevalent and common in a relationship and family: even if only momentary. Imagine if your every frustration was laid bare for all to see – most are easily solved, or set aside after resolution. But the sending of the mail to all and sundry, unleashes a series of events and forces everyone to look at their lives and behaviors. The characters are wonderfully flushed out, both from Angela’s initial frustrations and their appearance in the story. Her daughters Genevieve, Victoria and Lindy are complete people, prone to adolescent and immature behavior that contrasts with their thirty-something ages yet completely believable in those roles. Nick is perhaps too focused on ‘solutions’ and making a success of things than his own relationship, and their young son Ig, is rather a prototypical ten year old, aware of his parents but striking out after his own pleasures.
Not surprisingly, the letter sends the family into a tailspin, but more is to come and their entire sense of what their family is and means is now in imminent danger. Not overly dramatic or over-written in any way, the story is gripping and engaging with plenty of fuel for imagination and thought as you will relate each person’s struggle and emotions to your own. Small glimpses of the countryside and other cities round out the imagery in the story, while the emotion is palpable and omnipresent. My only let-down was with the ending, which was predictable and felt rather anticlimactic after such a wonderful read, even as it fit perfectly into the story progression. A bit of a different and heartwarming holiday read, this isn’t rife with gingerbread and spruce, but brings us back to family and home: the true joy of the holidays.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.