Stress Family Robinson (by Adrian Plass)

I consistently like Adrian Plass's writing. He has the rare gift of being able to make me chuckle - sometimes out loud - as well as making me think, and re-think, and ponder. The 'Stress Family Robinson' books aren't my favourites, but I still enjoyed them. So when, as I thought, a third in the series was published I ordered it immediately.

Then I decided to re-read the first two books. I assume I first read the first one in 1995, shortly after it was published. Then I re-read 'Stress Family Robinson' in 1999, when I'm rather horrified (and a little ashamed) to see that I called 50-year-old Dip 'elderly' in my brief review. Ouch. As one who recently celebrated my own 50th birthday, it's a bit shocking to see that I wrote that only eleven years ago.

A few months later I read 'Stress Family Robinson 2: The Birthday Party', and liked it very much. The ending was a little open, and I hoped very much that another sequel would be produced.

I then re-read 'Stress Family Robinson' again in 2004, although for some reason I didn't then follow that by re-reading 'The Birthday Party'.

Although it's only six years since I read the original 'Stress Family Robinson', and I remembered most of the plot, I'd rather forgotten that, underlying the light humour and family squabbles, there are some serious points about the wearing of masks, and the importance of being 'real' with our loved ones. I was also a little surprised to see how well I now related to Dip, who is not at all elderly but young at heart, while also rather guarded in her emotions.

The book is about the ups and downs of family life, perhaps a little caricatured at times, as seen through the eyes of Dip who is an honoured and much-loved family friend. There were places that made me smile, and one or two moments that brought a tear to my eye.

Definitely recommended. The original paperback is out of print but - as I discovered, to my cost - it is now re-printed, along with the second book, as 'Keeping Up with the Robinsons'. What I thought was the third in the series turned out to be nothing but a re-print of the first two 'Robinson' books. It was very disappointing.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 19th June 2010

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