Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
I read an enjoyable book last year about a mysterious benefactor revealed at a will reading and I hoped this would be along similar lines.
Review copy or purchase
Thank you to the author, publishers Corvus Books and online book club Pigeonhole for the chance to read this for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.
What it’s about
When Jonathan Coulter dies his partner and his three children by his first wife gather to hear the reading of the will. The three children are appointed executors and have to interpret their father’s wishes while working through their own issues and mild grudges against each other.
Jonathan is dead. He had lived with a Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis for the past few years, during which time he’d met and fallen in love with Megan, and left Eloise, his wife and mother of his three children – Liv, Noah and Chloe.
When Jonathan’s will is read his only bequest is a £5,000 gift to his carer Lisa. Everything else he leaves to his three executors, his three children, to sort out. Which they do. Over the course of the book. And, that’s it.
This book is very much character focussed. It takes a look at each of the people in Jonathan’s life and how they deal with his death. Eldest daughter Liv quickly takes charge, middle child Noah turns up late, drinks too much and winds up his big sister, youngest child Chloe has difficulties facing up to the reality of things and tries to make everyone happy.
Eloise is still bitter about the way her marriage ended, although she received a sizeable settlement in the divorce and has no designs on Jonathan’s estate.
Megan seems lost, she’s never been welcome in Jonathan’s family and now they’ve all descended on the home she shared with him to talk out how to split up his estate, and she feels isolated.
The action, if it can be described as such, is all based around the interactions of siblings and how they fall back into the patterns of their childhood. The same interactions, the same jealousies, the same frustrations. And, how that is impacted by the death of a parent.
There’s no real conflict, or even much real sympathy to be had for any of the characters. They all get in their own way, act selfishly, and are just generally quite unsympathetic without ever being dynamic enough to feel strongly about.
This was a book where I quickly gave up on anything happening. There are no twists, there are no real secrets to challenge your understanding of what has happened. It’s just a look at how some fairly realistic characters deal with a very ordinary situation. The whole thing could have been wrapped up in a five minute conversation where the children agreed to divide the estate equally between them, and there would have been no need for the rest of the book.
I like plots. I like intrigue. I like discovery and guessing and mystery and something. This isn’t a book for that type of reader.