- Author: Anne Fine
- Published: October 2016 by Endeavour Press
- Category: Contemporary Fiction
Fair’s fair. Or is it…?
Megan and Tory have never seen eye to eye.
They may be born of the same mother, but that’s where the common ground ends.
Sisters Megan and Tory are polar opposites. Megan, the elder, and her husband are successful business owners, live in an immaculate house and have two ideal daughters in private school. Megan chases perfection in all things, unlike her sister who has a very laid back attitude to life and bringing up her own children. Tory and Barry’s house leaves a lot to be desired, in Megan’s view. As far as Tory is concerned yoga, pilates and pampering are way ahead of housekeeping.
The sisters have a strained relationship made even more so by the sudden death of their stepfather, Gordon. Tory and Megan find themselves having to work together in order to deal with their mother’s illness, Gordon’s funeral and the will. Megan has always felt resentful towards Gordon for taking the place of her father, whereas Tory and Gordon got on famously. When Megan learns the terms of the will she deems it unfair, as Tory has three children and she only has two. Finding out Gordon subsidised Tory and Barry over the years in their unsuccessful ventures adds fuel to the fire of her feelings of injustice.
But that was Megan all over. She’d never taken to Gordon Forsyth. Right from the start she’d acted as if their widowed mother’s decision, first to go out with him, then to stay in, and in the end to marry, was one long sorry mistake. The rest of them had tried to ignore the sulks, and hope that Megan’s chilly patches would soon blow over. And after a while her festering resentment had seemed to lessen. But still it sprang up at odd moments to upset their mother and unnerve them all, sometimes in an ungracious response: ‘Oh, is this a gift from both of you? I hadn’t realised. Sorry.’ Or in affected astonishment: ‘But why would Gordon want to come to my prize giving? He’s not my father.’
The story centres around Megan and Tory, their behaviour towards each other and how having to deal with the fall out from the death of their parents affects both their families in opposite ways. Megan desperately wants what she considers her fair share, prompting her husband into an act he’s ashamed of, while easy-going Tory would be content with whatever comes her way.
I haven’t read Anne Fine before but I enjoyed this book, the entertaining and sometimes morbidly humorous look at dysfunctional family dynamics, the less than perfect relationship between the sisters, the circumstances and desire for more, even when it’s not needed, that makes people behave badly. The characters were fleshed out nicely and gave an immediate sense of their personalities. Sometimes I wanted to shake Tory, other times I felt like giving Megan a piece of my mind, but I think that’s the sign of good character portrayal.
My review is based on a free digital copy of the book from the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.
About Anne Fine
Though readers often find themselves inadvertently laughing aloud as they read Anne Fine’s novels, as she herself admits, “a lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises serious social issues. Growing up is a long and confusing business. I try to show that the battle through the chaos is worthwhile and can, at times, be seen as very funny.” In 1994, this unique combination of humour and realism inspired the hit movie MRS. DOUBTFIRE, based on Anne’s novel MADAME DOUBTFIRE and starring the late comedic genius Robin Williams.
Anne is best known in her home country, England, as a writer principally for children, but over the years she has also written eight novels for adult readers. Seven of these she describes as black – or sour – comedies, and the first, THE KILLJOY, simply as “dead black”. These novels have proved great favourites with reading groups, causing readers to squirm with mingled horror and delight as she peels away the layers in all too familiar family relationships, exposing the tangled threads and conflicts beneath. (It’s perhaps not surprising that Anne has openly expressed astonishment at the fact that murder in the domestic setting is not even more common.)
Anne has written more than sixty books for children and young people. Amongst numerous other awards, she is twice winner of both the Carnegie Medal, Britain’s most prestigious children’s book award, and the Whitbread Award. Twice chosen as Children’s Author of the Year in the British Book Awards, Anne Fine was also the first novelist to be honoured as Children’s Laureate in the United Kingdom. In 2003, Anne became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded an OBE. Her work has been translated into forty five languages.
Anne Fine lives in the north of England and has two grown up daughters.
More about Anne Fine on her website