The Simple Rules of Love (by Amanda Brookfield)

I hadn't come across Amanda Brookfield, but someone recommended her novels to me, and lent me this particular book. I had not realised that it's actually a sequel (to 'Relative Love') - but it didn't matter, as 'The Simple Rules of Love' is complete in itself. Moreover, there aren't any annoying flashbacks, and when prior events are referred to, they seem natural to mention.

This is a family saga, about the Harrisons. They are all introduced in the first chapter, which I found rather confusing - no doubt it would have been less so if I had read the previous novel first. However I soon sorted everyone out in my mind. There are four siblings with two wives and a fiancé, and seven children - mostly in their late teens.

Charles and Serena own Ashley House, but are going through a stressful patch as their children are growing up and away from them. Peter and Helen seem to have a perfect life together, but their are hidden flaws that surface right after Peter has a back injury, and visits a physiotherapist. Elizabeth's son is growing up and having doubts about himself; and Cassie, the youngest of the four siblings, is engaged to a crime writer, whom she finds increasingly demanding and possessive.

There are a few sordid moments early in the book, which nearly put me off altogether; there is also rather more bad language than I am comfortable with. However, as I continued to read I found myself feeling more and more involved with the various people and their lives.

The book charts a year, featuring each of the main characters in turn. It's a year of changes, which (as the blurb on the back mentions) include an unplanned pregnancy and an adulterous affair, as well as a wonderful family holiday.

The older teenagers in the book mature, and their parents eventually find they can let go and develop more equal relationships. As a parent of sons who have recently left home, I could empathise strongly with characters going through the same kind of thing.

The writing style is very good; it drew me into the family in a surprising way, and I'm glad I continued. It was hard to put down by the time I was half way through. Definitely recommended. I shall look out for more by this author now!

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 6th July 2008. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

Thank you for this blog, I love reading and find your reviews immensely useful.

Simple Rules of Love is an enjoyable read, however, the prequel Relative Love is simply wonderful.