Happy Families, Janey Fraser

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Bobbie’s children never listen to a word she says. Even worse, her mother has a new boyfriend: the notorious Dr Know, who dishes out hardline parenting advice to the nation. Could parenting classes help Bobbie control her kids – and save her marriage?

Andy’s wife is due to run a Perfect Parent class at the local school. But when she scarpers, he’s left to look after their two teenage daughters – and face his own childhood demons.

Vanessa has found love a second time around. But one night, six-year-old Sunshine is deposited on her doorstep with a message from Vanessa’s estranged daughter saying, ‘Please look after her’. This time she’s determined to get it right.

Can Bobbie, Andy and Vanessa really learn the secret of raising a happy family?

Publisher:  Cornerstone Digital, March 2013

Reviewer:   Meghan Gallagher

Happy Families is a witty page turner centred around the highs and lows of family life. Janey Fraser dedicates chapters to each of the main characters in turn and we watch as Bobbie, Andy and Vanessa’s chaotic and laugh out loud stories unwind and intertwine.  

This book draws in the reader from the first chapter with its humour and family drama. The three stories flow well and the main characters are developed and believable. The chapters are kept short and as the characters secrets are revealed, I found myself saying ‘just one more chapter before bed’.

Happy Families reads like a well written soap opera, as we move between the three families and see what really happens behind closed doors.  It deals with very real situations, making the characters likeable and easy to relate to.  You get to know them well and I found that I wanted to give each of them friendly advice over coffee. I wanted Bobbie to know that she was not alone in her daily struggle but that she needed more support from her husband. Andy needed to look more closely at his family and to carefully dig deeper into his wife’s past. I wanted Vanessa to know that she was doing a great job with her granddaughter and to ask why her relationship with her daughter broke down. By this point I knew I was hooked.

At various points during the novel I thought I had figured out the obvious ending to the story, which always slightly disappoints me. However I was pleased to find that Fraser continued to add new twists and turns to the story in each chapter.  This book is perfect to relax with over a glass of wine, and is an ideal holiday read.  Be warned if reading in public – there are several laugh-out-loud moments!

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