The Family Next Door is a humorous and poignant look at life in suburbia.
Welcome to the manicured neighborhood in Melbourne, Pleasant Court. It is here where four women are raising the finest citizens in a perfect place. But some things are kept hidden well below the pristine surface.
Essie has suffered a dark silence after the birth of her daughter, Mia. She unwittingly left her baby at the park to fetch some tea. Essie, a mother of two, is married to Ben, her pillar of strength. Barbara, her mother, helps to keep the daily order but knows something is not right with Essie. After all, a mother knows her daughter.
Fran is a mother of two girls, Ava and Rosie. She is not sure about her role in motherhood and binge runs to help her numb her mind. But from what? Nigel, her husband, is struggling with some bad decisions made in the past. He medicates with alcohol to dull his thoughts while adding weight around his midsection.
Ange is the local real estate agent, married to a hunk and the envy of all the girls. She has two sons Will and Ollie but quietly wishes that she saw tutus and golden curls running around the house. But being married to her handsome husband has its web.
And mysterious and unconventional Isabelle arrives into Pleasant court to bring light into the underground. She piques curiosity while encumbering speculation as for the newcomer. And she seems to be more acquainted with the neighborhood than it’s own denizens.
The Family Next Door is told from the perspective of the five women, Essie, Barbara, Fran, Ange, and Isabelle. As the stories unfold, we learn that each has a dark family secret. Subtle hints are laid out in the beginning chapter and elaborates as the story progresses. This narrative is brilliant, allowing us to become familiar with the engaging characters gradually. When one story brakes off with one perspective, it is picked up seamlessly by the next character. The cast of Pleasant Court is well thought out and well developed, with a past story and flaws. And a propensity towards drama. That is all except Isabelle who remains alluring during the narrative, with a story that we are trying to unravel alongside the neighbors.
This well-written narrative is an addictive drama with humor and moments of reflection. Suburban housewives are comical and play out unique situations. Particularly refreshing is the Essie-Isabelle storyline where Essie seems to come alive while thinking she is harboring a love interest in her new friend. Several twists are entertaining and suspenseful.
I highly recommend The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth. Soon to be out in March of 2018.