The Misfortunes of Family by Meg Little Reilly
MIRA Books: 2/4/20
eBook review copy; 352 pages
The Misfortunes of Family by Meg Little Reilly is a recommended family drama.
The Bright family is a political family. Newly retired senator John
Bright and his wife Patty have four sons: JJ (John Junior), Spencer,
Charlie, and Phillip. Every summer they have the sons and their partners
for a family reunion at their lake house in the Berkshire Mountains of
western Massachusetts. It is a stressful time for "the extras," as JJ's
wife Mary-Beth and Spencer's husband Ian call themselves. The older
three Bright boys are all dominated by their father and their mother
still mothers them throughout the reunion. The youngest son, Phillip,
who has always been an outlier in the family, makes an announcement that
further sets him apart.
This summer is different and ripe for more stress for the extras than
usual for two reasons. First the reunion is three weeks long instead of
the usual one. Secondly, this summer a documentary filmmaker will be
filming the entire Bright family the whole time. It is a situation ripe
for tension and highly guarded secrets are certainly going to be
exposed. Family reunions are usually fraught with underlying tension.
How many families can withstand potentially having all their secrets
The narrative unfolds through the point-of-view of the extras and
Farah, the filmmaker, as they observe the sometimes larger-than-life
Brights. The three weeks is full of drama, unbelievable stress,
emotional releases, some self-realization, and, eventually, several
shocking secrets are disclosed. The plot moves along quickly, but the
connection with the characters becomes more distant with each new
chapter. Ian was the most appealing character, partially because he was
the only character who was content with his life and didn't come to the
reunion with some hidden need or agenda.
The writing is good, but I pretty much knew or guessed most of the
secrets that were going to be outed so I was anticipating when my
predictions would be revealed in the plot. That meant that my interest
in the novel needed to be focused on the various characters and their
personal development. While character development does happen, most of
it felt truncated, which left me pining for the richness and depth that
great character development and personal growth can provide to a plot
that is otherwise rather predictable. I would look for another Meg Little Reilly because this novel shows promise for her future works.
My review copy was courtesy of MIRA Books.