This Family by Kate Sawyer #ThisFamily @KateSawyer @CoronetBooks @HodderBooks @ollie__martin #BookReview

This Family by Kate Sawyer

Published: 11 May 2023

Author: Kate Sawyer

Published by: Coronet Books

Genre: Domestic drama

Length: 416 pages

Reading dates: 10-14 May 2023

It is my dearest wish, that after so long apart, I am able to bring this family together for my wedding day.

This house. This family.

Mary has raised a family in this house. Watched her children play and laugh and bicker in this house. Today she is getting married in this house, with all her family in attendance.

The wedding celebrations have brought fractured family together for the first time in years: there’s Phoebe and her husband Michael, children in tow. The young and sensitive Rosie, with her new partner. Irene, Mary’s ex-mother-in-law. Even Emma, Mary’s eldest, is back for the wedding – despite being at odds with everyone else.

Set over the course of an English summer’s day but punctuated with memories from the past forty years of love and loss, hope and joy, heartbreak and grief, this is the story of a family. Told by a chorus of characters, it is an exploration of the small moments that bring us to where we are, the changes that are brought about by time, and what, despite everything, stays the same.

I know a lot of people loved Kate Sawyer’s debut novel, The Standing so when I was offered the chance to read This Family, I was thrilled!

This Family begins on the day of a wedding. The preparations are under way – Mary is in the garden preparing the tables for the celebrations, worrying about how the wedding will go. One of her daughters Emma, appears to be estranged from her sister Phoebe, and although she has promised to come back for the wedding and all 3 girls have promised to behave for the sake of their mother, Mary is still anxious. Added into the mix, her ex husband who is doing the catering, her ex mother in law who lives with Mary and is threatening to not attend and an imminent house sale and I could understand Mary’s anxiousness!

To begin with I was a little confused by the dynamics of the family – it is not clear to begin with who Mary is marrying as the flashbacks talk about her marriage to Richard. Also Rosie, one of the daughters isn’t Mary’s biological daughter and I was a bit confused how she came to be living with them after the death of her mother.

The story takes place over just one day but there are flashbacks to all the main family which help make things clear. We hear from Mary, how she fell in love with the house because of a tree in the garden, her early marriage, the child rearing years and her friendship with Liz and Ian which saved her sanity on more than one occasion. We hear from each daughter – Emma who lives in America and is desperate for a child, Phoebe who is married to Michael with two children but who is a recovered alcoholic and Rosie who is a nurse. The story includes several historical events to help with the time line – we hear about the Twin Towers, the Tsunamic in Thailand, the London bombings and of course Covid.

Despite being a little confused at the beginning by the characters, This Family still pulled me in and I was determined to find out more. I really like the structure and how the author revealed little threads throughout the book. It was quite emotional at times and I was engrossed!

The wedding itself in the garden of the family home was just perfectly described so I could imagine I was there, from the higgledy-piggledy tables and chairs, the lights hanging in the trees, the sunflowers grown by Mary for the day and the hog roast that I could practically smell!

I thoroughly enjoyed This Family – an unforgettable cast of characters who you can’t help but warm to and a lovely heart-warming story.

With thanks to Ollie at Hodder Books for my proof copy.

About the author

Alice Slater

Kate was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK where she grew up in the countryside as the eldest of four siblings, after briefly living with her parents in Qatar and the Netherlands.

Kate Sawyer worked as an actor and producer before turning her hand to fiction. She has previously written for theatre and short-film.

Having lived in South London for the best part of two decades with brief stints in the Australia and the USA she recently returned to East Anglia to have her first child as a solo mother by choice.


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