October 25, 2008

Life in Seven Mistakes - Susan Johnson

I have been in a bit of a reading ditch since finishing American Wife - I was so captivated by that book and the author's writing style that everything I have tried to pick up since has not been able to grab my attention at all.

Thankfully I remembered Life in Seven Mistakes the latest novel by Susan Johnson which I had bought a while ago but had forgotten I had (see, there can be a positive side to buying too many books!). I have previously read The Broken Book by the same author which I really loved and which had led me to buy Life in Seven Mistakes without even really knowing what it was about - that's how good The Broken Book was.

It turns out that Life in Seven Mistakes is a very different book - in both style and subject matter - but they still share a few similarities.

Life in Seven Mistakes tells the story of the Barton family - a quite financially well-off wealthy middle-class Australian family. The novel swaps between the present time where the family have gathered at the Gold Coast apartment of their parents for Christmas and back to the past where we read about the formation of the family from the meeting of the parents, Nancy and Bob.

Nancy and Bob meet after the end of WW2 in Sydney, they marry and have 3 children, Elizabeth, Robert and Nick. As in all families, there are some tensions and grievances - past and present and these all play out at the Christmas gathering in obvious and subtle ways.

The characters are richly drawn - sometimes so much so that you really find yourself connecting with their stories. The book reminded me of the book The Children by Charlotte Wood which I read last year in that they both cover very similar themes, family tension and love - although I would say that The Children is by far the darker of the two books. Both fantastic reads though.


Sarah said...

I haven't read anything by SUsan Johnson yet, but have been considering this. I must get to it now!

Karen said...

Hi Sarah - I would definitely recommend this one and The Broken Book.