When I heard that Lola, the indomitable grandmother from The Alphabet Sisters was going to be the main character in this book I knew that I would have to read it. I bought it when I was spending the day up at Bendigo but since then it has sat on my shelf unread, until I saw that there was a blog tour- finally the encouragement I needed to actually get the book off the shelf and read it!
Lola Quinlan is looking forward to her family going away and leaving her to own devices this Christmas. She is not, however, going to be by herself. Instead she has placed an ad looking for guests to come to stay at the family motel for Christmas and Lola will use any means at her disposal to have people around her at this time of the year. You have to wonder why she doesn't want her family around, and also who are these people who will come to a small town in country Australia instead of being with their families.
Among the prospective guests there is a young man who has lost his job, his girlfriend and his hope, who has a terrible plan for this Christmas. There is a also a couple who have been dealing with the aftermath of a terrible accident and the wife is at the end of her tether. Also at the end of their tether, three sisters who are growing up in something akin to a battlefield rather than a loving family environment.
Before Lola can even begin to worry about her guests though, she has plenty to keep herself busy. Despite being drawn closer together when their sister Anna was ill, Lola's granddaughters Bett and Carrie can't seem to get along. Both are struggling with getting the balance between the demands of their young children, keeping house, keeping their husbands happy and so much more. Anna's daughter is having trouble dealing with the fact that her father is looking to move on with his life. And then, there is the charity shop! Lola has been volunteering at the charity shop in town for years, but she doesn't feel as happy there since a new 'volunteer' has started who has very definite ideas which clash with Lola's own thoughts.
Along the way, there are revelations about the past and the future, and the rekindling of a friendship that Lola had thought long lost.
One thing that did think was really well represented was the heat of an Australian Christmas. I know it is something that fascinates people from the Northern hemisphere, but a hot Chrismtas is a normal Christmas for us. The heat, the dust, the effort to fit all the traitional (winterish) aspects of the celebration into a very different environment and more. There is a chance that I might find myself near Clare (the small town where this book is set) and if I find myself at a loose end for a few hours, I might even go and visit Clare, especially seeing one of my favourite wineries is near the town.
Monica on Facebook
Magic can happen in every family.As an added bonus today, I thought I should mention that I have met Monica McInerney a couple of times now. The first was a couple of years ago when she was doing a publicity tour for At Home with the Templetons (you can read about that meeting here) but the last time was last week. Once again the author is on the publicity trail, this time for her new book The House of Memories which has just been released here in Australia.
At the Valley View Motel in South Australia's picturesque Clare Valley, eighty-four-year-old Lola Quinlan is up to her usual mischief. She's sent her family away for Christmas and invited a number of mystery guests to come and stay. But who are all these people, and why aren't they spending the festive season with their own loved ones?
As the big day draws closer and Lola's personal family dramas threaten to unravel her plans, she discovers that at a special time of year, magic can happen in every family – especially your own.
From the bestselling author of At Home with the Templetons comes a funny, sad and moving novel about memories and moments and the very meaning of life.
In a very clever contest idea, the publisher asked the public to help build a house of memories and by doing so you got a chance to win the entire backlist by the author plus $1000 spending money! the way that the entrants hepled to build the house of memories was by each writing a memory on a small piece of paper to an outline of a picture. By the end of the day, all the pieces of paper formed a picture of a house which was based on the cover of the book! So clever.
Monica McInerney was also there with some of her family but I had to rush back to work so couldn't stay and chat! I did manage to get a few pictures of the house, to share my memory with her and to get my book signed too.
|Early in the day|
|At the end of the day|
I read this book for the following challenges.