‘A single woman?’ Barbara said, eyes still on her crossword. She tapped the base of the pencil against her lip. ‘In Sandringham? Why wouldn’t she get an apartment in the city?’
‘Single women can live in Sandringham! Maybe she wanted to live by the beach.”
”But it’s an unusual choice, wouldn’t you say?’ her mum said. ‘Especially Pleasant Court.”
On the surface Pleasant Court lives up to it’s name, as a pleasant place to live. The culdesac is a peaceful, family street where everyone knows everyone. Essie, Fran and Ange are all happily married, with two children each. Essie may have had a breakdown after the birth of her first child, but her second is now six months old, and she’s coping fine, even if she does sometimes envy the lives of her two friends. the arrival of a new neighbour, though, is unexpected, and becomes the catalyst for change. What Isabelle is doing there is unclear – but it could lead to big changes inthe lives of the three friends.
The Family Next Door is, in part, a reminder that the outward lives of our neighbours are often a far cry form their reality. Told from the alternating third person perspectives of the three women, readers are party to their individual battles and turmoil. At the same time, it is Essie and her family whose storyline is most dominant, with Essie’s battle with postnatal depression, her relationship with her mother and her connection with the new neighbour, Isabelle, both intriguing and moving.
In parts wryly soap-operish, in the vein of Desperate Housewives, this is a compelling, moving read which will suprise as it entertains.
The Family Next Door, by Sally Hepworth