This months ‘coffee-break’ review in celebration of The National Year of Reading is Monica McInerney’s, Those Faraday Girls. McInerney is a much-loved author. Her elegant prose and insight into the human spirit makes for enjoyable reading.


Synopsis: As a child, Maggie Faraday grew up in a lively, unconventional household in Tasmania, with her young mother, four very different aunts and eccentric grandfather. With her mother often away, all four aunts took turns looking after her – until, just weeks before Maggie’s sixth birthday, a shocking event changed everything.

The Faraday girls are introduced over a cooked breakfast one morning. Absent is their mother who has died, leaving their father, Leo to raise his daughters alone. When the youngest, Clementine, is discovered to be pregnant at just 16, the entire family is shocked to its core, yet they agree to all help raise the child. Maggie’s arrival assists McInerney in highlighting the differences between the sisters. Clementine is faced with the career versus daughter plight; Sadie delights in pseudo-motherhood, while the remaining sisters look toward bigger and better things. The eldest girl, Juliet, is down-to-earth, Miranda, self-absorbed and outspoken, while Eliza is a calculating fitness freak.

Six years later the sisters have agreed to move out from the family home and lead separate lives but one sister makes a gross error of misjudgement, leaving the family torn apart. Fast-forward twenty years, and Maggie is alone and adrift in New York. Her grandfather comes to visit in the hopes of eliciting her help to ensure that all his daughters are together for their traditional Christmas in July celebration, begun in memory of his beloved wife. Maggie eventually uncovers secrets which makes her question her family. This in turn leads to a difficult decision that may change everyone’s lives.

I was a little disappointed with the novel jumping from the sisters aged in their twenties to their forties and fifties. My connection with the sisters was impeded by this structure and I admit to losing a little interest in the story from that point on. I did however enjoy the examination of the way in which Maggie’s aunts impacted on her life, although the fact that all the girls and their father collectively become both successful and wealthy made the story quite unrealistic for me. This tabloid ‘rich and famous’ angle surprised me in a novel that doesn’t avoid the dilemmas of teen pregnancy and fertility. Yet by the end of the novel, issues still exist. This is a domestic struggle that reminds us of what makes families both so wonderful, and annoying.