by Liane Moriarty
From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.
But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?
A long and rather tedious family saga/ psychological thriller. The Delaney family appear to be a normal happy family however when the mother, Joy, suddenly disappears the whole family is scrutinised and their underlying characters are revealed and found wanting. Has Joy been murdered and if so is her husband Stan the killer? To complicate matters a young woman named Savannah arrives on the Delaney’s doorstep in the middle of the night in a distressed state. She has apparently been injured by her partner and has nowhere to go. Joy allows her to stay with them despite opposition from her four adult children and lukewarm suport from her husband.
The background of the Delaney’s obsession with tennis is a crucial factor in the relationship between Stan and Joy and the lives of their four children. They met at a tennis club and went on to own a coaching school. All the children played from an early age and were expected to be champions. Such pressure to succeed has blighted the lives of all four of them in various ways.
One suspects throughout that Savannah is in some way responsible for Joy’s disappearance but we are kept waiting, not in nail biting suspense, but wishing that the end is in sight. When it comes however, like all good fairy tales, the family all live happily ever after and the wicked witch Savannah has the satisfaction of slaying the dragon who ruined her life.
The underlying theme of the damage caused by ambitious parents imposing their dreams of fame and success on their offspring is a positive in this otherwise rather ordinary novel.
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