Review: At Home With The Templetons, Monica McInerney

| 26 February , 2011 | 1 Reply

Kristy McCormick

I\’ve loved all the Monica McInerney books I\’ve read to date and I certainly didn\’t dislike this one, her latest. In relation to the others though, At Home with the Templetons was slightly long winded compared to her usual fast paced and often amusing tales of dysfunctional families and relationships.

Gracie Templeton is 11 and in her mind she leads a charmed life. A seemingly wealthy English family, the Templetons have moved to a crumbling mansion in Victoria\’s goldfields after (apparently) inheriting it. The family are somewhat eccentric – dressing up in period costume and showing tourists around on weekend being one of the less unusual things they do – and the locals have little time for them. Gracie, however, loves it and revels in being able to share the history of her family home with the world. But not everything at Templeton Hall is at it seems.

The rest of Gracie\’s family do not quite share her vision – her father a cagey businessman with more secrets than any of them could ever guess; her aunt, Hope,  a rambling alcoholic; her sisters, Charlotte and Audrey, are neurotic and obscenely selfish and her younger brother, Spencer, careless and seemingly without a worry in the world.

Gracie befriends her neighbour, Nina, a single mother, after her son Tom becomes best mates with Spencer. Although Nina is initially reluctant to encourage either of the friendships, she is drawn closer to the Templeton family over time – with tragic and devastating consequences.

The story details the Templeton\’s lives in country Victoria, and follows them via a series of letters and emails as they are forced to return to London to live. Nina, unwittingly at first, remains at Templeton Hall as caretaker and so maintains contact with the family.

When tragedy strikes the families are torn apart, with both sides vowing to cease all contact. But it is Gracie, the most vulnerable of the lot, who suffers the most, mostly unknown to the others around her.

The novel details the relationship between the Templeton family, Nina and Tom and the devastating effects that biased beliefs and interference can have on relationships. You feel alternately sad and frustrated for the two main characters affected by this and I have to admit I felt something close to complete loathing for the character responsible for years of deception by the end of the book. You\’ll no doubt understand when you read it.

At Home with the Templetons still contains the dysfunctional family, the difficult relationships and the portrayal of everyday issues families face, but it lacks a little of the author\’s usual touch of humour.

All in all, this isn\’t as light and fluffy like some of Monica McInerney\’s earlier books, but it remains a likeable, bittersweet tale that, once you get into it, will draw you in to the very end – I would recommend it to all her fans.

Available Now: Penguin RRP $32.95

Kristy

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