Thursday 11 September 2014

Each & Every One by Rachael English

Your family are always there for you...aren't they?
For Tara, Vee, Niall and Damian, the children of the Shine family, their parents have seen them through thick and thin. In fact, Gus and Joan's lifetime of hard work has given their children the luxuries they never had when they were growing up - a comfortable home in a leafy Dublin neighbourhood, gap years that never seem to end and an open chequebook for life's little emergencies. Unfortunately, although the children have grown up, they have got a little too comfortable with the well-feathered nest: now it's time to learn a few home truths.
When a twist of fate means the bank of Mum and Dad can no longer bail out the younger generation, suddenly the whole family must find out who they really are - but sometimes the truth isn't easy to face. Uncovering the secrets they all hide will show them a different side to the city they call home and mean finding allies in the most unlikely places.
Warm, wise and witty, Each and Every One is a novel about the lessons we learn in life - and the ones we never do.

Each & Every One was published today (11 September 2014) by Orion and is the author's second novel. I reviewed her first book Going Back here on Random Things in July of this year.

The grown up children of the Shine family have large accounts with the Bank of Mum & Dad. Tara, Vee, Niall and Damian have enjoyed a luxury lifestyle, all funded from the hard work of their parents Joan and Gus. Niall, the thirty-year-old who lives life as though it is one long gap year, flitting from country to country, never settling down; Damian, local councillor with left-wing views in public, but who on closer inspection isn't adverse to using money to gain advantage; Vee who has a pair of stillettos and a designer dress for every occasion and Tara, the only one who holds down a job, albeit a 'bottom of page eight' journalist, but at least she goes out to work.

Ireland is in the middle of the huge bust that came after the massive boom. Businesses are going bust, new housing developments lay empty and unfinished, the Celtic Tiger's roar has faded to a little whimper. When Gus and Joan Shine inform their children that the money is gone and that they are going to have to stand on their own feet and fend for themselves for once, the family meltdown begins.

I really enjoyed Going Back by Rachael English, but I have loved Each & Every One, her writing has matured beautifully, and she has created a cast of the most wonderful characters. Human, warm, funny, a little bit mixed up and with a great story to tell.  The author explores the modern family, and how in the case of the Shines, it has been built on money and materialistic things, rather than on great love and endurance.

Gus and Joan have realised that they have raised a family of dependant people, who have never had to face up to difficulties and they are determined that their children will take some responsibility for their lives. Their actions have consequences that none of them could ever have imagined.

The Shine children, except for Tara, are a bunch of children-like adults, their priorities are themselves first, and everyone else later, be that their partners, their children, or indeed, their parents. Tara is the saving grace in this family, and Each & Every One is really her story.

Rachael English has portrayed life in modern recession-hit Dublin very well, and although the Shine family are fascinating in their complexity, it is the other family within the story who will steal the heart of the reader. This is a family who didn't reap the benefits of the boom years, stuck in a crumbling tower block, with drug dealers and murderers for neighbours, this small family are the stars of the story. Little Ben, the eight-year-old boy will steal your heart, whilst his young Grandmother Carmel shows the true meaning of family love.

Each & Every One is a stylish read, a great plot with wonderfully colourful characters. A story with humour and fun, and a story with a message. A fabulous second novel, I'm looking forward to the next one already!

My thanks to the author Rachael English and Gaby Young from Orion who sent my copy for review.

Rachael English is a presenter on Ireland's most popular radio show, Morning Ireland. During more than twenty years as a journalist, she has worked on most of RTE Radio's leading current affairs programmes, covering a huge range of national and international stories. Going Back wa her first novel and was shortlisted for the Newcomer of the Year in the Irish Book Awards 2013.

Follow her on Twitter @EnglishRachael
Visit her Facebook Author Page

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