The Real Katie Lavender is the latest novel from bestselling author Erica James and a real treat for your holiday reading. Right from the beginning you can’t help but feel sorry for Katie, as she has lost her father, her mother and her job all in the first few pages. But hidden in there is the start of a new story for her as she is mysteriously summoned to a lawyer’s office the day that she is made redundant from her job. It turns out that the lawyer has a letter for Katie – from her mother, who died a year ago.
In the letter, Katie’s mother reveals that the man whom Katie had called Dad, who died three years ago, was in fact only her stepfather and that her biological father is a well-known businessman who has set up a considerable trust fund for her. Katie wrestles with her principles, her boyfriend – and her well-meaning friends – agonising over whether she should track him down or just take the money.
In the end Katie decides to approach her father and tracks him down to a country village, but without knowing his full address she is at a loss for what to do next. Fate intervenes and she ends up serving drinks at his mother’s – her grandmother’s – 90th birthday bash.
From here Katie learns that her biological father’s family is not at all like the family she grew up in. There is a maze of tangled relationships, sibling rivalry, secrets and pretences that have almost torn the family apart. When Katie appears on the scene it looks for a while as if she is the proverbial straw that will break this family’s back (though privately I think they would have managed quite well on their own if she hadn’t arrived).
The novel is easy to read and enjoy and you will probably find yourself, like me, amazed at the amount of surprises that the author could spring on this family group. But though I started by finding Katie’s biological family quite unlikeable, in the end it is her impact on the family that is felt the most, and that ends up giving a positive influence, and thankfully, a happy ending.
Also check out our interview with Erica when she visited Australia.
Available now: Hachette RRP$29.99