Sunday Dinners by Jon Rance
Release Date: 26th October 2015
Publisher: Amazon Media EU
The Wilde family have always had a roast dinner on Sundays. Greg Wilde made sure of it. Him, his wife, Lizzy, and their three children around the table; for years it was the glue that held them together.
But now with the children all grown up and moving out, and Greg and Lizzy’s marriage facing an uncertain future, their lives are becoming increasingly unstuck. Greg soon begins to realise that creating a happy family is one thing, but staying that way is an entirely different story.
Told from each of the family’s perspectives at their monthly Sunday roast dinners, this is a bittersweet comedy about parenthood, marriage, love, life and roast dinners.
Whilst life is constantly changing for every member of the Wilde family, there is one constant in their lives. Greg’s Sunday Dinner.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Greg Wilde has always ensured that once a month his family congregate in the family kitchen for the best meal of the week. Granted, Greg’s children aren’t really all that bothered about the tradition. Eldest daughter Lucy is battling with her complex love life, Matt has found himself living back at home job-less and girlfriend-less and youngest daughter Holly appears to have found God. It’s fair to say that they all have more pressing things on their mind than whether their chicken is a free range, organic Sutton Hoo or not.
Whilst on the face of it the Wilde family appear to be normal (as normal as a chaotic family of five can get, anyway.) it soon becomes apparent that there’s much more than meets the eye to this ‘average’ family. Secrets, relationships, lies, disappointment, heartbreak, romance, love and a garden shed just about covers it…
If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you will have heard me rave about Jon Rance multiple times. I loved his Harry Spencer books (This ThirtySomething Life and This Family Life, which you must check out if you haven’t done so already!) As it’s been over a year since Jon’s last book I was more than ready for Sunday Dinners and despite being very, VERY different to his previous books, it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, I love the fact that Sunday Dinners was so different to what I was expecting because it’s unleashed a whole new side to Jon’s storytelling that I absolutely loved.
I quickly fell in love with the Wilde family. They are one of those families who are both normal whilst also being as far away from normal as you can get. Does that make sense? Probably not.
The fact is that whilst the things going on in their lives might be very un-normal, as soon as you read their stories you will identify with them and no doubt be nodding your head in recognition at the way they behave around one another. Bickering, food fights, tears, alcohol consumption and dry chicken are all on the menu for the Wilde’s every month and I have no doubt that every reader will identify with one member of the family in some shape or form. Whether you think you’re own Dad is like Greg, your own Mum like Lizzy or your own Grandma like Joan, Jon Rance has managed to create the perfect family for Sunday Dinners. The perfect family who are by no means perfect that is.
The style of this novel is also really different from Jon’s previous books. We get to hear from every member of the Wilde family during the course of the sixteen years over which the story is set. I loved this format because I feel as though I bonded with every character so much more than would have if this had been narrated by the just one lead character. Saying that, Greg took on the role of lead character for me. I liked him whist he infuriated me at the same time (he also made me laugh. A lot.) I also really liked his son Matt. He also made me laugh and his heart was in the right place. I almost felt like a proud parent myself as I watched him grow up and mature. I desperately wanted him to get his happy ending – in fact I wanted this for the whole of the family.
How Jon Rance manages to get inside the heads of such a wide variety of characters I will never know. His portrayal of 53 year old Lizzy was just as convincing as that of 18 year old Holly’s. He managed to pinpoint the worries, battles and inner feelings and thoughts of every single one of his characters and I think it takes a truly talented writer to be able to do that. The result is a set of very convincing and likeable characters.
A Jon Rance book wouldn’t be a Jon Rance book without a sprinkling of humour and Sunday Dinners definitely has this covered. I love Jon’s sense of humour and the way he incorporates it into his writing. The one liners and sometimes crazy situations that the characters find themselves in is always done to perfection. However, I feel with Sunday Dinners Jon has toned down the humour in relation to his previous novels and has started to explore more serious themes and he pulls this off so well. There were times when my heart broke whilst reading this novel and I will freely admit that I shed a tear or two. It also got me thinking…I was pondering family life and the relationships that we have many a time whilst reading this novel (I’m deep like that.) In all honesty this book really did get me thinking. It reminded me of the importance of family and how we should never take what we have for granted. When the chips are down it’s your family who will be there for you. They will love you and support you no matter what. As Greg proves, they may not always agree with your decisions, but that doesn’t make them love you any less.
I also am fascinated by the way this book examines us as human beings. Why we behave the way in which we do, what we are scared of and (the biggie) how the decisions we make don’t have to define us.
Jon Rance has the perfect recipe going on with Sunday Dinners. Honesty, drama, humour, love and family ties. Mixed together it undoubtedly makes for the best meal of the week…
A huge thank you to Jon for sending me a copy of Sunday Dinners to read and review. ♥
Jon studied English Literature at Middlesex University, London, before going travelling and meeting his American wife in Australia.
Jon writes romantic comedy fiction similar to the work of Mike Gayle and Matt Dunn.