The ordinary life of the Chambers family is rendered in extraordinary detail in Bonnie Bernards first full-length novel. Although the book spans fifty years, it touches down at odd intervals – each chapter taking the reader one, five, or seven years into the family’s future. New babies are born, divorce takes place and romance blooms. Sometimes the story dwells on ordinary moments, other times it reveals how swiftly lives are shot down by tragedy. However, the bonds of family are a constant source of love and strength for its members. The good house is real – we’ve all felt the rough paint of its porch beneath our fingers as we draw comfort from familiar surroundings and hear the laughter of our loved ones from within.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We felt this was a lovely book. We breezed through the beginning of each chapter wondering what had happened to the family while we turned the page. The descriptions of everyday surroundings – the beach house, the creek, the house itself were beautifully made. We enjoyed the local setting and recognizing the streetscapes of London and the shores of Lake Huron. Some of us found the explosion of grandchildren difficult to follow in the later chapters of the book, but enjoyed the exploration of the devastating effects of dementia on the patient and his loved ones. We found Margaret wise and wonderful, though perhaps a little too saintly and wondered if we would be equal to the challenge of raising someone else’s family so smoothly. We enjoyed seeing the little town come of age over the fifty years, as if it too was a character in the novel. Highly recommended.