The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.
Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.
Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.
Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?
Having had a reading and reviewing lay off due to chemotherapy, I’ve got a pile of books I’m chomping at the bit to read, and this was top of the pile. Who could resist the enticing cover and blurb. While it took me longer to read than I would have liked (my concentration level is still not up to speed) I couldn’t have picked a better come back book – I loved it.
Books about families are always a hit with me, they either make you feel yours are not as bad as you thought, or make you wish you a had more functional one! The Piper family in this book, along with associated friends and lovers (both past and present) are not your average family. Certainly not dysfunctional, but not exactly functional, but the one word they share with both is fun. No matter what crisis or disaster befalls, for the most part, there is a balancing humour to soften the blow. But as in life, not everything can be solved by laughter and the book deals with some serious real life issues. This stops the book from being an endless round of Sunday lunch dates as the threads that runs through keep you engaged to the end. That said, I also loved the foodie element varying as it did from high-end cuisine, through to good home cooking, via disastrous and hap-hazard.
There’s the standard pecking order and roles that all families adopt that are instantly recognisable and it’s easy to be, by turn, sympathetic, annoyed, amused and enchanted by the regular goings on at their meet ups. Anna is definitely the mother hen, wanting the best for her siblings, though they don’t always see it that way. Her brothers Neil and Josh, have difficulty coming to terms with their lives, having spent the best part of their lives denying how they feel. Maeve is the younger sister, who has never really grown up and overseeing them all is grandma who sees and understands far more than they give her credit for. By the end of the book, I was thoroughly captivated by the way the story played out for each of them, as they came to recognise and accept themselves for what they are.
Of course it’s not just the relationships within the family that evolve and in some cases dissolve, but those with friends and lovers. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Luca, and I was hanging on until the bitter end wanting the right outcome – you of course will have to read the book to discover whether that happens.
With all good stories there are secrets and lies that gradually unravel and this one is no exception and there are some surprising disclosures that I never saw coming which is always a good thing.
If the book were a recipe I’d say take a mix of family and friends, add food, feuds and misunderstandings. Layer with a generous helping of warmth and love then sprinkle with a few secrets and lies. Serve in large slices with a hearty cuppa.
It’s a great, feel-good read that really touches the heart and I happily recommend it.
Book due out 19th April. Available to pre-order here