This novel has the meaning of ‘family’ as its premise: can we choose our family or is blood really thicker than water?
Christine Blacksworth- a driven, hardworking twenty-something is flying high in her corporate job in the family business. Her world is turned upside down by the sudden death of her father Charlie in a road accident at his small cabin in the Catskill Mountains; some 700 miles from the family home in Chicago. Charlie spent four days a month there, taking a well earned break from running the Blacksworth Corporation. Or so the Blacksworths thought.
When Charlie’s will is read, a part has been left to a Lily Desantro. Confused and horrified, Christine decides to go over to the Catskills herself to meet this Lily. It transpires that four days a month, Charlie was living with another woman, Miriam, and together, they had a thirteen year old daughter, Lily.
As Christine starts to piece her father’s other life together, she gradually builds up a relationship with both Miriam and Lily, who has Down’s syndrome. She begins to understand how much her father loved them: Charlie was a good but weak man who was torn between his two families and by trying to do right by both, ended up doing right by neither.
Christine believes she has really ‘found’ herself with the Desantros. But there are two flies in the ointment. One is Nate, Miriam’s son who hated Charlie and what he did and transfers his hostility to Christine. The other is Christine’s alcoholic, pain-killer addicted mother, who has no idea of the Desantros’ existence, or where Christine is now going regularly. Or does she?
There are no huge surprises in this novel. It’s more a case of how things are going to pan out rather than what is going to happen. But it’s a good story with some really loveable characters (Lily and Christine’s roguish Uncle Harry). It poses some interesting questions about families, honour and legitimacy. The burgeoning romance between Christine and Nate was a bit obvious and I found myself more interested in Harry and housekeeper Greta. Nevertheless, I would recommend the book.
Read this if you like an interesting take on your family sagas.