I haven’t read a Liz Byrski for a while and picked up this one on a whim. I remember hearing Liz talk a few years ago and when asked why she started writing, she said she was fed up with not being able to read books about people like her, ie a woman in her 40’s, just getting on with her life. Since then, she has been very productive and Family Secrets is her eighth novel. She has also written some non-fiction but I’ve not read any of those.
So, to Family Secrets. Liz has actually moved on from the middle years for her main character in this book. Connie is approaching 70, and has just been widowed as the book begins. Her husband of many years has died after having had motor neurone disease for ten years. His life before that had been a vigorous one with success in various fields with a compliant Connie always by his side. Connie had left a lot behind in England when she married Gerald and moved to Hobart, and now, on his death, she wants to go back there, visit some old places and mend some bridges.
Her adult children, Kerry and Andrew are shocked with her proposal as they had been planning that she would sell the big house, and move closer to one of them. They are talking about her as if she was suddenly feeble and unable to make her own decisions. There are some gloriously hideous speeches from Kerry in particular as she tries to tell her mother what she should do. Her self righteousness and selfishness infuriates and shocks Connie. Despite her children claiming to know what’s best for her, which emphatically does not go off on her own for a long overseas trip, she does so, but her bridge mending attempts don’t have quite the effect she expected.
I thoroughly enjoyed Family Secrets. It won’t stretch your brain too much, but there are a lot of characters who will be recognisable to a lot of people. It’s a perfect weekend read.
It’s a large format paperback for $30