2016: 43. Did You Ever Have a Family

“He wakes to the sound of sirens. Many, loud, and very near.”

Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg

Look at me, reading an actual work of contemporary fiction, the kind that gets reviewed in the Times.  I know, it’s hard to imagine a non-true crime/mystery/fluffy British novel being reviewed in these pages, but I grabbed this at the library, and couldn’t put it down.  Maybe those fancy reviewers know what it’s about, after all.  

Anyway, this book sounds a bit dreadful (or at least super depressing) from the book jacket.  "On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the life of her daughter, her daughter’s fiance, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke - her entire family, gone in a moment."

 Yikes, right? 

But Clegg has written a beautiful book about how tragedy ripples out into the life of so many, and how, after the worst possible loss people manage to continue on.  It’s real, and it’s human, and it’s about flaws and failings, but about love, and survival and kindness too.  Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective - from Jane herself, to Luke’s mother Lydia, to more auxilary characters, and it slowly builds to show you how no matter alone you feel, the world is with you, if let it be.  Just a lovely, lovely read.

If I had one tiny quibble, it would be with the revelation of what caused the tragedy - I didn’t feel that it was a mystery that really needed solving, in the context of the rest of the story.  But nonetheless, a highly recommended read.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017