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Moving by Jenny Eclair

 

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Moving by Jenny Eclair begins with our introduction to Edwina. It is the present time and, now in her late 70s Edwina is planning to sell her house. The house she has lived in all of her adult life, where she raised her children. Where she now lives alone. The house that is now too big, a house she cannot possibly maintain. It is all too much. I know how she feels! Anyone still living in the family home after the family has gone may feel the same. Edwina’s house also holds so much sadness.  There are unused rooms, there is clutter. Edwina herself looks in the mirror and knows it is time to go.

As Edwina shows the house to the listing agent, she re-visits the life she lived in this house. We learn about her first marriage, her children. Her second marriage. We know that something happened that caused her great grief. We know that other people really never know what happens in a family, or the things that happen in a house where a family has lived. The conversations around the dinner table, the slammed doors, the celebrations, the love, the worry – family life.

It is now time for this house to be passed on to another family who will make their own lives there, as did all of those came before.

At the beginning of this book I was reminded of the television series Midsomer Murders – as many episodes begin with someone out walking a dog and coming upon a couple “having it off” in the woods. Well, contemporary British fiction is much the same – no prudery here. There is a good deal of sex – some happy, and some not so much.

The first third of the novel reveals Edwina’s memories, as room by room we witness the life she and her husbands lived in this house with their children. Happy times and not so happy times. I’m thinking this is a sort of Bridget Jones Diary for old people.

Then it changes when we meet Fern, a drama student in Manchester. It is 1980. Fern meets Edwina’s son, Charlie, and life happens. What the parents don’t know. Everyone’s family, really, is full of secrets – the secrets parents keep from the children, the secrets children keep from the parents.  Some of them will be revealed.

This is a novel about family. Relationships between siblings, parents and children. The characters are British, upper crust or close. Boarding schools, expectations. It is about the maturity that comes with age, to some sooner than others. It is about accepting responsibility, about making right what can be made right. It is about forgiveness. It’s about life.

“So much happens in a life time, all those split second decisions that can end in tears.” writes Jenny Eclair. There are a lot of tears in this novel – some of them may be yours. You won’t be able to put it down.

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