Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hello From the Gillespies, by Monica McInerney

NAL Trade, ISBN 9780451466723, November 2014

For thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent out happy Christmas letters from her sheep station home in the Australian Outback. This year is different.

This year, Angela and the whole family are under stress. Her two oldest, the twins, are back home after work-related scandals cost them their jobs. Younger daughter Lindy, who has bounced from career to career, is home after an attempt to start her own business has landed her deep in debt. Late-in-life son Ignatius, at ten years old, still has an imaginary friend, and keeps running away from the boarding school his father and grandfather attended.

And husband Nick has signed an exploration lease with a mining company for half the station property. He hasn't told her why. For the past year, he's barely talked to her at all, and not about anything important.

In a stressed and frustrated mood, Angela writes a Christmas letter that tells the whole truth. She intends to delete it--but in the chaos of an immediate family crisis, the email gets sent. To Angela's entire, 100 person, Christmas email list.

And then the real chaos begins.

I love these characters. Every single one of them, even Celia. They each have their own faults, and their own real grounds for complaint. They each have their own strengths and virtues.

And they all have love and family loyalty.

This is an utterly absorbing exploration of character, family ties, and let's not forget the stunning Australian landscape. I was completely drawn in, and kept looking up to find that instead of two or three pages I'd read another fifty or a hundred.

Realistic, warm, and satisfying.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.