Julie Houston is an author who I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time and now that I have read her latest novel, A Family Affair, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t fit one into my reading schedule before as I really rather enjoyed this. But how lovely to know that she has a back catalogue I can catch up with!
A Family Affair is initially the story of Frankie Piccione who has spent two years away from her home town of Westenbury after having her heart broken. Finally she has returned and has been persuaded to start working for the family firm, Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves. However, it’s just as much the story of her beloved Auntie Pam, who has just stepped down from the board of directors.
I enjoyed the similarities in both Frankie and Pam’s stories. The book takes place over three timelines. In the 1970s, a young Pam is very much in love but something happens one night which means a very different future from what she envisaged. In the more recent past, another event means that Frankie’s life also changes dramatically. In the present, Frankie is working towards a new future, with a hint of new love and new opportunities at work
Opportunities and expectations were something I felt were strong themes in the book. There was pressure put on Pam to conform in the 1970s and it’s fair to say, it made her life rather miserable for some years. Although times were changing for women at that time, there was still a lot of societal pressure to conform. This was equally true of another character close to her who had to hide an aspect of their life and conform, in this case partly because of society but also because of family. Not being true to yourself can cause a lot of misery.
It was also partly family pressures which broke Frankie’s heart, I found this aspect of the story so intriguing. She was so much in love and it seemed that love was reciprocated in full. So what on earth had happened to cause that sudden break-up?
A Family Affair is a very enjoyable book. I loved getting to know all the characters in Westenbury and will definitely be keen to read about them again. I thought that Julie Houston wrote about all the romances so touchingly and they felt very true to life. There was a lot of humour in the book too. There were quite a few unexpected moments, some of which made me gasp and some if which made me smile. Julie Houston has taken all the strands of her characters’ lives and woven them together into a heart-warming and uplifting book about family, friendship and love.
My thanks to Vicky at Aria Fiction for the opportunity to take part in the blogtour and for providing a review copy via Netgalley. A Family Affair is available now in ebook and you can order a copy for Kindle or Kobo on the Aria website here: A Family Affair
From the back of the book
From the bestselling author of A Village Affair comes a brand new, laugh-out-loud novel!
Joining the family business was never going to be easy…
Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities – well, for now, anyway. Two years after fleeing Westenbury with a shattered heart, it’s time to return and take up her place on the board of the family business. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves is floundering, and Frankie knows she can turn it around.
But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to persuade them that she belongs on the board just as much as they do.
With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend Daisy, Frankie begins to thrive with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into her life and threatens to ruin everything…
About the Author
Julie Houston lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. Julie is married, with two adult children and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Dev Patel in attendance.
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