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At the Table: a Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year

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A gripping yet tender depiction of family dynamics, love and disillusionment, At the Table is about what it means to grow up – both as an individual, and as a family. Also the descriptions of the ingredients in the meals didn’t always add anything- just tedious padding.

To watch a character to begin to suffer with depression and anxiety is tough, but when no one in the book seems to notice his mental health deteriorating is incredible hard. In a place she had determined to forget forever, both anticipated encounters and unanticipated revelations show her, and us, that sometimes life is neither fate nor chance: perhaps it’s nothing more than a little luck. In the interactions between the family members, Claire Powell has a way of showing how adults revert to childhood behaviour - acting out a role with other family members that they may have been performing for years (perhaps lacking the ability and self belief to move on? The kind of rare story you want to nosedive into on a hot hungover weekend and slurp down like iced coffee - cold, sweet and quenching . As the hours count down to their wedding, Piglet is torn between a growing appetite and the desire to follow the recipe, follow the rules.

Their lives have been marked by meals, and this focuses on a year in their lives at different moments.

And I didn't think the Lucy/Jamie relationship- which had been going on for ten years - made sense given that he was so lukewarm about the relationship. I really enjoyed this novel, with a good storyline that keeps a good pace throughout so I stayed easily engaged with it. This British take on the subject has moments of being savvy in family dynamics but far more moments of disliking most of the family, most of the time.Nicole starts to revisit in her mind an old relationship that ended badly, and begins to rely on alcohol more and more to get through the day. I found it poignant seeing them come together after being torn apart by their personal dramas, and Powell's choice to leave out sections ended up creating a moving sense of intimacy between them. Claire Powell's great skill is to reveal to the reader what her characters struggle to realize themselves . An unpleasant story about nasty people being horrible to each other and those they come into contact with. The complexities of any family dynamic are varied and they are many; a large scoop of fraught mother/daughter, a spattering of father hero-worship, a dollop of sibling fuelled inadequacy and four human beings who love each other.

The subtle observations described in such intricate detail mean that this is a fly on the wall story like no other. Chociaż lektura należała do całkiem przyjemnych, obawiam się, że nie jest to historia, którą zapamiętam na długo. Nothing cataclysmic, this is a story of the every day, of the subtleties of familial communication (or often lack of it) of the things that we assume, the things that we hold close.Hardworking – and hard-drinking – Nicole pursues the ex she unceremoniously dumped six years ago, while people-pleasing Jamie fears he’s sleepwalking into a marriage he doesn’t actually want. Potem odcina od siebie matkę, którą uważa za winną rozstania, choć… wcale nikt z rodziny nie dał jej tego do zrozumienia. I initially wondered if any of the members of this family even actually liked each other - and if I was gonna be able to like any of them. Though there are some funny moments in the book, the emotional and mental issues the characters go through far outweighs anything humorous. Jedyne określenie jakie przychodzi mi do głowy to że ta książka jest bardzo płaska, bohaterowie też, niby coś się dzieje ale jakby nic.

Whilst this is a family drama told through scenes where people are eating/drinking, Claire Powell handles the choice subtly and it doesn't stick out as a gimmick. Her marriage is characterised by emotional compromise and she is full of regrets about the risks she dared not take in life. The Things That We Lost is a beautifully tender exploration of family, loss and how far we will go to protect the ones we love. She is a graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA, where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Bursary and the Malcolm Bradbury Continuation Prize.For a novel that has virtually no plot, the characters should have been the focal point of the narrative; instead they were one-dimensional, unsympathetic, and just plain boring.

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