Stories We Tell Ourselves
By Sarah Francoise
Head of Zeus
Frank and Joan’s marriage is in trouble. Having spent three decades failing to understand each other in their unfinished house in the French alps, Joan’s frustrations with her inattentive husband have reached breaking point. Frank, retreating ever further into his obscure hobbies, is distracted by an epistolary affair with his long-lost German girlfriend. Things are getting tense. But it’s Christmas, and the couple are preparing to welcome home their three far-flung children.
I really wanted to enjoy this novel, I thought it would be a charming Christmas family drama but it was nothing like that at all. I really struggled to read it. Only 288 pages long and I think it took me 4 weeks to get through.
The novel is basically a massive family woe. Frank and Joan are the parents, they don’t really seem to have a very happy marriage, in fact I would say there was no love between them at all and Frank is having an emotional affair with another woman. The couple have 3 grown up kids. Maya who is married and has kids, she’s having an affair with another woman. Lois also married and has kids, is having an affair with “a historian” and Wim is thinking about leaving his girlfriend. Depressing right?! Clearly cheating and lying to significant others runs in the family.
I kept reading on and on to figure out if there was going to be a happy ending and this charming Christmas day. But I wasn’t finding it at all. I found the writing really dull which didn’t help the depressing storyline. I really hated all of the characters even the dog had a voice of it’s own and all it did was pine for Lois and complain.
If you enjoy character and relationship focused novels where not a lot happens then you will probably enjoy this family drama. For me the story was very flat and the characters really irritated me. They were all cheating on their partners, no one seemed to care or even feared they could be found out. It felt like they were all in relationships that they didn’t really want to be in but just stuck with it because they had children. I thought this would be a charming Christmas tale but it was charmless and boring.
Shame I ended the year on such a rubbish book, however one of my goals for next year is to put down books I’m not enjoying and this would of been one of them. Katie x