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Our high-quality Family Drama selection offers the heart-breaking and heart-warming conflicts and dramas directly from the hearth, telling the stories of these families that have been struck by tragedy, conflict and drama and their struggle to survive intact.
This year Carolyn Mackler will re-release her beloved coming-of-age novel The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things in a newly updated edition. Now she drops readers right back into the hilarious, haphazard life of Virginia Shreves in this long-awaited sequel! Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Dumplin'.
A wonderfully shiver-inducing wormhole of a read, the possibilities opened up before me while the story snapped at my heels. Elle returns home after letting her house out to slight but notable differences, the house no longer feels welcoming, small shifts have occurred, has she inadvertently allowed danger in? The prologue is quietly unsettling and sets the tone beautifully. Lucy Clarke writes with an exquisite subtlety, each layer thin as a slice of paper painstakingly constructed into a looming brooding tower. Taunting ‘Previously’ chapters lie in wait, prepared to catch you unawares, and then there are the chapters from the past, allowing knowledge freedom to hint, prod, stir. The characters felt so very real, they slid into my mind, taking up residence, making mistakes, regretting, living their lives. The ending felt real, felt right, felt perfect. You Let Me In is a razor-sharp, smartly provocative tale, and I loved every single second of it - highly recommended.
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 A darkly mesmerising and fascinating epic of a tale based in India, one that is all-consuming and fiercely beautiful. A family descends into a hellish nightmare when power, greed, and corruption begin to prowl through their lives. After his mother dies, Jivan returns home to his family and arrives to chaos. The first paragraph gently took hold of my thoughts, setting the departing view in my minds eye, setting my feet on the journey to India. I sank quickly and deeply into the page, Preti Taneja allows the words to sing, to explain, to show the world that Jivan is entering. I remained on edge, apprehensive, sometimes having to peek between my fingers as love and hate began a heady, swirling, burning dance, wrapping around one another until they became one. As a retelling of King Lear, it stands resolutely on its on merit and I almost didn’t want to mention the connection. ‘We That Are Young’ shocks, provokes, pushes and pulls at thoughts and feelings, it is also a ravishingly descriptive work of art. Featured in Episode 4 of the LoveReading Podcast
An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I’ve not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.
Stinging, compelling, dynamic… excellent. After Paula’s husband dies she discovers she may not have known him quite as well as she thought. Life takes a vicious slap at Paula and her only chance is to come out swinging. As I read I felt as though the words were shaping into life, as though this tale could be happening right now, at this very moment. There is an immediacy, a powerful edge to the storyline that feels so very real and wonderfully different too. Glasgow sits centre stage, vibrantly punchy and full of life. Michael J. Malone has created a dramatic and thrilling family tale that just sings with intensity. I thoroughly enjoyed picking my way along the razor wire of uncertainty that my thoughts and feelings teetered on. After He Died is an explosive tale, one that takes hold, bites, and doesn’t let go.
A dynamic, powerfully expressive novel that feels so real, you could be conjuring it to life as you read. Angel saves the life of English teacher Nina, later that night Angel turns from saviour to adversary when she and her blood soaked brother turn up at Nina’s door. Each chapter is headed by one of the main characters, they feel vividly real, almost touchable, and their pain and anguish sliced into my thoughts. Cass Green created an unexpected atmosphere as energetic whip-fast chapters gently, almost quietly revealed background information, which allowed my mind to process the action while sifting, analysing, questioning. Good and bad may be seen as opposites, yet there are times when lines and edges blur, creating a stimulating storyline that just crackles with tension. Don’t You Cry surprised me (which I always love) and left me feeling very satisfied indeed. Just make sure the edge of your seat is comfortable, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time on it!
A deeply reflective and moving debut novel about a Pakistani immigrant family in America trying to find out what happened to their rebellious son. Featured in Episode 4 of the LoveReading Podcast.
A feverishly seductive story, it whispers, cajoles, beckons from history until the past forcefully assaults the present. When Ruth’s estranged father dies she returns to Edinburgh and discovers the hidden diary of her ancestor Thomas Erskine. Fascinated by his story Ruth finds herself in extraordinary danger when she starts to delve into the past. The prologue offers a warning, while the first chapter thoroughly sets the scene in 1760 as 10 year old Thomas witnesses a murder and sees the shadow of the dead man as it leaves the body. Barbara Erskine has based the story on her own family history, she paints a picture with a beautiful delicate balance and inner strength as the drama starts to unfold. Ruth’s story stands resolute in this time, and with a delicious shiver of fear I let the story take me where it willed. I always knew where I was, even as the past pushed ever closer. Spellbinding and gorgeously readable, as all becomes clear The Ghost Tree really is the most perfect title - highly recommended.
A deeply emotional, dramatic, and refreshingly original story for young (or older) adults, set in the late 1990’s in Australia. Teenager Sam’s mother dies in his arms on New Year’s Eve, mourning and traumatised, he moves in with his estranged Aunt and cousins, and his life is forever altered. The first chapter simply and vividly set the scene, I could look around me, almost touch, smell, hear my surroundings. Claire Zorn writes with eloquent empathy, yet doesn’t hide from heartache. As I read I could see Sam’s pain as a stinging physical entity. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the words caught hold of me, picked me up and ran. Sam’s raw emotions scorch the pages, he is the focus, yet the surrounding characters are fascinating in their own right. I adored the ending, where it left me, how it left me feeling. At times hope seems so very far away, yet it is very much a part of this story. ’One Would Think The Deep’ is a beautifully written tale, tender yet penetrating and powerful, it offered itself to me and let me sink into its depths.
The most hilarious debut you will read this year. Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what's best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a 'normal' family Christmas. They can't agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did - and it's too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He's a rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends - where this story starts - with a tearful, frightened, call to the police... But what happened? They said they'd all be adults about this...
‘Pieces of Her’ blew me away, it’s sharp, edgy, compulsive reading. I foolishly started to read late in the evening and ended up keeping the early hours company for some time as I simply couldn’t put it down! 31 year old Andrea finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her mum Laura when a birthday trip ends in horrific violence, further danger rushes in and Andy desperately needs to find answers. The prologue encourages intrigue to bubble away nicely then, oh my word… chapter one! Chapter one brilliantly sets the scene before exploding in the most shocking way, I gulped, settled further into my chair and just read. Karin Slaughter has the ability to set the page on fire, she fans the flames, and I needed my wits about me as the time frame changed and left my understanding floating for a while, searching for answers. Andy and Laura are fascinating characters, they challenged my thoughts and feelings in the best possible way. Incredibly stimulating and enthralling ‘Pieces of Her’ has left me on a heart-hammering reading high!
So deeply dark (and satisfying) this book just might locate a tad of the dark side in you too. Rhiannon is back! If that doesn’t mean anything to you, stop here and do not pass go, head straight out and buy yourself a copy of Sweetpea first. You have to read Sweetpea (one of my books of 2017) followed by In Bloom (which will be one of my books of 2018) because there is no other way. I simply adored the shock-fest that introduces serial killer Rhiannon and wondered how on earth C. J. Skuse could top the thrill of discovering Rhiannon for the first time. The answer is that I fell head long into the story and refused to come up for air until I had finished, I found a darker, and perhaps if possible, a more provocative read, though one that still delivers killer blows of humour. Quite how the writing doesn’t tip over into a farcical blood-bath I’m not sure, it just proves the beautiful balanced touch to the writing that encourages thought, while inducing cackles. The truly fabulous kill list continues, more of Rhiannon’s back story is revealed, a certain little voice adds a delicious note of reasoned absurdity, and oh my word that ending! Trampling over conventionality and kicking conscience in the face, In Bloom is an immensely powerful and stimulating read.
A sparkling, witty, occasionally rather sexy debut that made me nod in agreement and splutter with laughter. 30 year old Polly works for Posh! magazine, she excels in making the aristocracy look spectacular on paper, however her love life is wilting dramatically… and she needs a Plus One for her best friend’s wedding. Polly quickly settled into a fabulous friend status, we sat together gossiping, I giggled, winced, and regularly raised my eyebrows as I read. Sophia Money-Coutts has a wonderfully light touch, she also keeps laughing gas in her pen, and isn’t afraid to use it. I alternated in reading bits out loud to my husband (who was as shocked as I’d hoped he’d be), and just sinking into, and enjoying the story. There is a heart-felt reality kick along the way, however for me this was an outrageously feel-good read. ‘The Plus One’ became my best friend while I read it, very funny, sometimes shocking, always extremely entertaining.
An absolute belter of a novel, amusing, poignant, and hugely entertaining. This is a follow-up to the bestseller I Don’t Know How She Does It, however it could be read without prior knowledge of Kate Reddy's earlier life. Kate herself is fast heading towards 50 and invisibility, life however refuses to listen and keeps setting devious traps. I don't believe that you have to have passed or be nearing 50, to be a parent or even a woman, to be captivated by this tale of family drama. Allison Pearson writes with a witty, exceedingly realistic pen and I found myself nodding along, both smirking and wincing as I read. How Hard Can It Be captures life, proper gutsy, difficult, yet wonderful life, and while making you smile, also makes you think, I loved it.
This is quite simply a wonderfully gorgeous must-read! My whole being poured into ‘The Possible World’, soaked up the words, the feelings, the story. Six year old Ben is left traumatised after a violent crime, Lucy the doctor who initially treats Ben in the Emergency Room has her own issues, while Clare has lived a lifetime of secrets, is she ready to tell her story? Each chapter is headed by one of the characters, each story, stands resolute, almost isolated, and yet a transparent thread weaves between them, creating a cobweb of a connection. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz writes with such beautiful heartfelt emotion, yet is also able to communicate stark realism. At certain points, my mind clouded in confusion, before clarity hit me like a hammer blow. I adored the storyline, the mysterious, spellbinding route that is taken almost feels as though you happen upon it by chance. I read without stopping, completely consumed by the story and it hurt when I turned the final page, when I had to come back into my world. I still ache when I think about ‘The Possible World’, it truly is a beautiful read and will topping my books of the year.
An electrifying and riveting tale, my thoughts and feelings were captured from the moment I opened ‘Watching You’. Joey returns home to Bristol, she soon becomes rather obsessed with an older man, however doesn’t realise that while she is watching him, someone else is watching her. I was absolutely thrilled to hear I would be reviewing Lisa Jewell (sharp elbows and pushing to the front of the queue may have been involved), as her books have the ability to really get under my skin. Intrigue and suspicion smiled slyly as they settled over the first page and prologue. I adored the way this book opened out in front of me, tight fast moving chapters created a throbbing energy which played havoc with my emotions. I met each character with a certain amount of uncertainty, weighing, judging, evaluating as I got to know them. Information is steadily and exquisitely revealed, a beautiful balance is maintained, keeping thoughts on a knife edge. ‘Watching You’ is a completely wonderful, intensely satisfying tale. I can highly recommend just letting go and sinking into the pages, be warned though, I didn’t want to come up for air and it was a one-sitting read for me.
Full of intrigue ‘11 Missed Calls’ weaves separate intriguing strands into a taut fascinating tale of family drama. Anna’s mum Debbie disappeared 30 years ago when Anna was just a month old, she has spent her whole life wondering what became of her, then a strange letter arrives and Anna wants answers. Elisabeth Carpenter handles the story with care and attention, focusing on thoughts and feelings, where they can take you, what they can become. The past sets traps as the present slips forward. Two women tell their own story, each chapter headed by one of them, then another voice starts to speak, who is it? As information was revealed and thoughts became clearer, a number of questions still knocked at the door of my consciousness. Prodding, poking and shaking feelings ‘11 Missed Calls’ is a stimulating and thoughtful psychological thriller.
Absolutely and completely adorable, this all embracing story will break, mend, and fill hearts with warmth, humour and love. Lana is bitter after her break-up and pours her angst into her new book, while much admired author Nancy often finds dementia leaves her in a confusing world. Jack acts as matchmaker with Lana and Nancy and they find their lives forever altered. The main characters light up the pages, Nancy in particular has taken up residence in my heart and soul. Sophie Jenkins has the most beautifully light and thoughtful touch, little bits of heartache sit right next door to gulps of laughter, while gorgeous literary snippets and references sprinkle the pages. As I finished reading, I actually said out loud “I blimmin love this book” and gave it a hug (it was witnessed, I got a couple of strange looks, but hey ho). Sophie Jenkins has written a relationship tale for book lovers of all kinds, for people who love hope and even need hope in their lives. I raise my glass to The Forgotten Guide to Happiness and what really matters in this world… love, in all its different shapes and sizes.
A short, sharp, shock of read and it’s absolutely fabulous! Maxwell is determined to win his ex-wife Lily back even though she has moved on and found love with Sebastian, jealousy, spite, and rage enter their lives, laying waste. This is just so incredibly easy to read, even though the prologue cranks up the tension, and each chapter adds a whip-crack of suspense I simply galloped my way through ‘Do No Harm’. L. V. Hay has created characters who entered my mind in vibrant colourful intensity, the different points of view clear to see and feel yet disquiet fills the pages. Maxwell’s conversational diary-like entries as he makes his feelings clear slices through the new relationship. My thoughts almost turned themselves inside out as I read and the ending… oooh that ending! ‘Do No Harm’ is a little cracker, bursting with fiery energy, it certainly creates a stir.
A hammer-hard blast of a novel set in the underworld of Essex. Alfie and Vaughn return from Spain looking to become kingpins in the world of crime, however the local criminals are already forming a queue ready to take them down. Jacqui Rose immediately sets the action loose in a fast-paced wild ride and I just leapt straight in. There are characters full of bravado and swagger who set the pages on fire. The chapters are short, snappy, and full of menace. I raised my eyebrows and smirked at the brilliantly snarky quips and retorts. A mystery of whispers from the past gather to meet the present setting up a tidal wave, ready to crash into the ending. ‘Toxic' comes with shocks a plenty and a tommy gun of wise-cracking comebacks, plus there is a particular storyline ready to melt hearts, all resulting in a captivating, absolutely cracking read.
Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel. It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.
A beautiful yet powerful debut that shares the story of twelve characters and empathises with the struggle of the urban native American. It’s a masterclass, an incredible book that has conflict, poverty, despair, humour, hope and so much sadness it’s heart-breaking. The stories are intertwined and involve the dozen individuals travelling to the Oakland Powwow about to embark upon a chain of events that build to a real crescendo. Get your tissues at the ready and prepare to be wow’ed.
Tragedy Begins at Home
Whether it’s Barbara Taylor Bradford’s window into the dark secrets of dynastic powerhouses, or the hard realities of Allison Pearson’s writing: the incisively humourous observations of Nick Hornby, or the light touch of Charlotte Bingham: the engrossing passion of Jojo Moyes, or the captivating worlds conjured by Jodi Picoult and Daisy Waugh, the range of fantastic stories in the Family Drama section is almost endless. Luckily our unique expert reviews and hand-picked recommendations are here to help match you with your perfect next read. Sign up to our monthly emails to stay in touch with the latest output from warm, wise Elizabeth Buchan, insightful Kate Atkinson, sensory-stimulating Joanna Harris, huge-scale Sidney Sheldon, magical Alice Hoffman and so many more in the varied family of fantastic authors of the genre.
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