Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

The holiday season is not far away and so the flood of Christmas letters and Christmas cards will soon be upon us.  Have you ever read those Christmas letters and wondered how much of it resembled reality?  Well, in Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney we learn what happens when someone actually tells the truth.  Angela Gillespie has been sending out her annual Christmas letter on December 1st since she first married over thirty years ago.  It has been a rough year and she is having a difficult time putting a positive spin on life.  Some impulse takes over and she begins typing what is really happening in her family:  Her husband has grown distant since their sheep station (like a ranch) began to fail, her daughters are struggling to come into adulthood and her ten-year-old is still holding on to his imaginary friend.  She doesn't mean to let all the details of their lives spill out, but she does.  She only meant to get it out of her head and then delete it all and start over until a family emergency keeps her from taking care of it and it accidentally gets sent out to over one hundred people on her mailing list.

I was cringing even as I was laughing about such an error, perhaps because it sounds like something I would do.  When I began this book, I thought it would be a funny book with a bit of family drama.  I was surprised when it took turns that took the reader much deeper into this family's lives and concerns.  The sheep station in rural Australia has been suffering for years due to drought.  The oldest daughters, twins, have moved far from home, one to Sydney and the other all the way to New York City.  The youngest daughter is struggling to find her place in the world and has bounced from one job to the next.  The young son has run away three times from the boarding school to which he has been sent.  And Angela is feeling lost in herself, in her mid-fifties and unsure about what is next for her.  When the family is all suddenly drawn back home, they are forced to face issues and work together.

I really enjoyed this book and I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud.  The characters were all fully formed and wonderful.  I especially loved Angela's best friend Joan.  I would love to have a friend just like her.  And oh, how I'd love to hear all the stories Genevieve has to tell.  The descriptions of the setting had me looking at travel websites.  I would love to go.  Angela hosts guests on the station and that made me even consider leaving the beach!  This was a fun book to read without being too light.  I totally recommend you read this in place of all those phony letters with holiday borders you'll soon be getting in the mail.

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