When Iris Parker dies, she is determined that her death will bring her three daughters (her dollies as she calls them) back together again. “She cared deeply that you should all be happy in your lives and she regretted that you are no longer close.” They are three very different characters and over the years have drifted apart, though not after any major fall outs. Iris has put a condition in her will which means that her daughters, Rose, Daisy and Fleur, must spend six weekends together carrying out various tasks she has set them in order to inherit what must be some considerable wealth. All the tasks she has planned involve them not only spending time together but hopefully realising and appreciating the various different ways that people can feel happiness and contentment. “The list looks at some of the different approaches to finding happiness….. Of course, that happiness can be random, just comes across you out of the blue…..But there are times when one needs a helping hand.” She has appointed Daniel, who oversees a meditation centre, to make sure that the terms of her will are met over the course of a year.
I didn’t realise that this is Cathy Hopkins first foray into women’s fiction as I recognised her name. I suspect her books have been on my daughters’ bookshelves at some point. I was amused to see that one of her books is entitled ‘Portobello Princesses’ though I suspect it’s the London Portobello and not the Edinburgh one.
I very much enjoyed The Kicking the Bucket List and felt quite emotional at times reading it. I could imagine how the women felt having the chance to hear their mother talking directly to them, as she did in video messages, from beyond the grave. In some ways, it must have been a comfort but in others it must have reminded them so much of their loss. One thing they all had in common, different though they were, was that they all loved their mother. There was a lot of humour in the book too though, mostly provided by Iris and her two friends in the video messages. They seemed as mad as hatters and despite being in their 80s, they knew all about the value of having a laugh with good friends.
The story was told mostly through the point of view of Daisy, or Dee as she preferred to be known. I really liked Dee and although in a different situation in my own personal life I felt I could really identify with her problems. She is nearly 50, turns 50 during the book actually, single, with her only daughter living in Australia. As well as losing her mum, the owner of the house she has rented has recently died and her sons want to sell it. Without her inheritance, she has no chance of affording it so is very keen that her sisters comply with the terms of the will. Rose seemed really stand-offish and controlling at first but through the sections told from her point of view, I came to understand her more and why she was behaving as she did. I would have liked to have learned a bit more about Fleur as I felt I didn’t get to know her quite so well.
There is inevitably sadness in this book, and perhaps more than you might expect at the beginning. But overall it is a very enjoyable read which will play with your emotions as you journey with the sisters throughout the year. It is a book which made me think about valuing relationships with family and friends more and not taking them for granted. It also made me think about how we often misjudge people, as I misjudged many of the characters in this book, and how we don’t always know what is going on in others lives. I was quite absorbed in the sisters’ lives while I was reading and I feel I would like to know about how things turn out for everyone in future. I don’t know if any sequel is planned but would be keen to read more if the author does write one.
Thank to the publishers for providing a review copy via Netgalley. The Kicking The Bucket List will be published tomorrow, 9th March, in paperback and as an e-book by Harper. You can order a copy online here
From the back of the book.
Mum always knows best… The stunning debut for fans of Celia Imrie and Dawn French.
Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with very tricky strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.
But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’s bucket list was about so much more than money…