Tuesday, 8 June 2021

A Family Affair - Julie Houston

About the book… 

Joining the family business was never going to be easy...

Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it's time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione's Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she's going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it...

Perfect for fans of Heidi Swain, Milly Johnson and Marian Keyes.

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About the author… 

Julie Houston is Yorkshire born and bred. She lives in Huddersfield where her novels are set and her only claims to fame are that she taught at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old school, her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris and her friend is about to marry Tracy Emin’s cousin! Oh, and she was rescued by Frank Bough when, many years ago, she was ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ at the Kensington Hilton in London.

After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country.

She now teaches part time, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the last thirteen years, and, when not distracted by ebay, genealogy (so time consuming but so interesting - she recently discovered her husband is descended from the poet Shelley and the Duke of Milan!!) and crosswords, she spends much of her time writing.

Julie is married, has a nineteen-year-old son and sixteen-year-old daughter and a mad cockapoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book.

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My thoughts…

A Family Affair is typical of a Julie Houston novel - it sucked me in and enveloped me straight into the story, and into the lives of Pam and Frankie, aunt and niece, it had me oohing, ahhing, muttering and awwing in equal measures from the very beginning.

The story centres around both their lives. Pam’s life see-saws back and to over a 50 year period, whilst Frankie's spans just a few - both of them part of the Piccione Pickles and Preserves family. Both meet the man of their dreams only for fate to twist its cruel knife and leave them following a different path in life, the ‘one that got away’ leaving a hole that time has been impossible to fill.

I loved that the story centred around a family of Italian, or should I say Sicilian descent, I virtually travelled with them, the descriptions of the food - ohhhhhh I literally drooled, it really was delicious. Once again Julie Houston has created characters that were relatable and warranted the time I invested, cheerleading them through the story of their lives. Pam and Frankie’s stories told 50 years apart but almost parallel, the similarities and bumps in the road so very similar. I loved that despite everything, underneath it all, the strong women they were shone through. I so wish I had an auntie Pam cheerleading and guiding from the sides.

As ever, Julie relayed their stories, surrounding them with a supporting cast of family, friends and neighbours - everyone seemingly connected to each other in some way - so and so's brother's, sister's, mother's, uncle that married .... You get the picture? I thought I'd never keep up but it all slotted together, I'm glad to say and there wasn't a single one that I thought was un-necessary to the plot. Some I liked more than others, but that's real life isn't it?

It's a story with more than a little romance, a story steeped in mystery and secrets that were revealed slowly throughout the book. There's more than one love interest, lots of heartbreak and sadness, but for me Pam is the star of the show. Julie’s ability to create multi-faceted characters is second to none - polishing them just a little more with each chapter until they shine and can stand alone - I totally loved this book. The fact that topics that were taboo in the 70’s are at the heart of the back story yet despite their importance to the plot didn’t dullen the lustre of the present is testament to Julie Houston’s skill as a writer.

if you haven't discovered this for yourself yet you are seriously missing out. Head to Amazon and indulge yourself in this beautiful read - A Family Affair, you won't be disappointed.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh wow!, Dawn!! Fabulous fabulous review!! Really appreciated!!
    Julie xxxxx