Thrilled to be on the blog tour today on what is PUBLICATION DAY for Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel! Yes!! Can you believe it? This fabulous author has hit this incredible milestone and here’s hoping that it’s only onwards and upwards from here. I’ve been reading and enjoying her books for as long as I can remember and it really is an honour to be touring for her. so thank you to Orion Books and Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the opportunity.
So … The Family Gift … a book that falls into what I think must be my favourite book genre: Irish (I don’t care if that isn’t an official genre – it is to me!) And with a recommendation from the amazing Marian Keyes on the cover, well … need I say more?
To the outside world, 40-something Freya looks like she has it all: the gorgeous husband, the 3 adorable kids, a dream career as a TV-chef with a few published books under her belt, a close, loving extended family and a gorgeous, large new home! I mean really, what more could anyone ask for? Well, actually … stability? Sanity? For her cranky inner-voice Mildred to shut up, maybe? As they say, #TrueStory, all is not what it seems.
To put it bluntly, Freya is not coping with life. A series of events over the past year have conspired to make her feel as if the very foundations of her world are about to implode at any moment. But as we women tend to do, she soldiers on, believing that she must display an outer facade of strength and support to everyone around her, while inside she slowly collapses. In a world where the conversation about mental health still seems to bear a stigma, regardless of how much we attempt to encourage acceptance and speaking out, the relevance of this theme cannot be emphasised enough. There is no individual group that escapes the cruel tentacles of anxiety and stress – it can affect anyone and everyone, and it does: Men and women of all ages, youth, and even very young children.
I completely related to Freya and the way she felt pulled in every single possible direction. But I also had some really fantastic laugh out loud moments at the descriptions of how she was told to portray herself on social media, which she found completely ridiculous – which is exactly what it is: fakery at its best! I work in the Social Media/TV/Theatre/Film industry and most of the time, the only thing that’s real about it is the fact that it’s all totally phoney! Cathy Kelly got that so spot-on! As for all the insight into publicity and how to work around it to the benefit of your public persona – the manipulation and decision-making that’s done seemingly with your consent, but often without it too – was also very tactfully dealt with, might I say, even gently! It’s not an area that’s usually given such moderate treatment, and I won’t even go into how this all contributes to the pressure that it puts on people who feel that they need to ‘measure up’ to the images they see online. Suffice to say: “the model you see in the picture doesn’t even look like the model you see in the picture.” (With apologies – I don’t know who to attribute that quote to, but I absolutely love it and I’ve never forgotten it!)
I think that what I loved the most about this book is the warmth that I felt from Kelly’s characters. It’s possible that I’m biased as I tend to feel that way about many Irish books, but I truly do feel that there’s something quite unique about the way these stories play out. There’s a distinctive wisdom and humour that’s threaded throughout their pages that I just don’t see in other books, and The Family Gift certainly had these elements by the bucket-load!
This is a 5-star read that will leave you with that warm, fuzzy feeling that you get when you’ve snuggled up with your favourite blanket, your fluffy socks and a mug of foamy, marshmallow-topped hot chocolate … or whatever (or whoever) takes your fancy!
About the Author:
Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of BETWEEN SISTERS, SECRETS OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE, and THE YEAR THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, (among numerous others) and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart. She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS. Find out more at www.cathykelly.com or follow her on Twitter @cathykellybooks
Follow these 20 bloggers on the blog tour for The Family Gift, Cathy Kelly’s 20th book …