Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru,

My friend Patty is celebrating her birthday this week and I know she loves nothing better than a good story . Can you recommend a book that has lots of characters and secrets and surprises that I might get for her? Birthday Enthusiast

Dear Enthusiast, I hope your friend has a wonderful birthday and what a good friend you are to think of her! The book I was thinking about that might meet your criteria is FAMILY ALBUM by Penelope Lively. The story opens in the present as a young couple reluctantly pull up to Allersmeade- a lovely, somewhat shabby Edwardian family home. They are greeted by Alison and Charles , the parents of six grown children, each with an interesting story. Always present, always in the background, is the family au pair/housekeeper Ingrid . The story line swings back from the present to the past , and back again many times. We are there when Alison and Charles meet and decide to marry. We are present at the many elegant family parties Alison orchestrates, and we are there when the secrets that color the family's history are finally revealed. Throughout we have Allersmeade - and Allison's dream of the perfect home for the perfect family- obviously a recipe for the perfect nightmare. This is a quick read, but it brings with it a lingering sense of melancholy that seems just right for this time of year.

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