- Book: The Sister in Law
- Location: Amalfi Coast
- Author: Sue Watson
Join the Taylor family from the comfort of your sofa and watch the family dynamics play out.
The core family has descended on a villa on the Amalfi Coast for their regular Summer holiday. Joy and Bob Taylor, the grandparents, always extend an invitation to their two sons, Dan and Jamie, plus their partners. Dan is a regular, adaptive child, married to Clare, through whose eyes we observe the events as they unfold. They have three children and have a few marital issues to resolve.
A surprise visitor is the other son Jamie, a free child, who travels the world and leads a hippie lifestyle. Imagine the surprise when arrives with Ella in tow, his new bride. This certainly makes for a jaw-dropping appearance. From the get-go Clare feels that Ella has it in for her and certainly Clare sets about creating situations where she can be at her most passive aggressive and undermining self. Yet no-one else in the family is ‘hearing’ the interchanges, and if there is any perceived unpleasantness, then it gets brushed aside as “she means well”. A British family with an ingrained stiff upper lip and unwillingness to understand meta-communication.
Haven’t we all at some point in our lives experienced those digs? “Love your dress, shame they didn’t make it in your size” type of exclamations, made in all innocence (er, I think not!)? Ella presents herself as a model and Instagrammer and as the narrative progresses we see her lining up more of her pouty selfies, whilst Clare fumes away. Jamie is clearly smitten. Dan, to whom Clare tries to turn, is having none of it and there is just a suggestion that Clare might be acting out because she is no longer the favoured daughter-in-law. A sort of sibling rivalry amongst sisers-in-law. Certainly she and Dan have been shunted out of the double bedroom to make way for the honeymooners which leaves Dan sleeping in a single bed and Clare spending the nights in the ‘children room. Not a great recipe for patching up a marriage.
As Ella powers her way into the family property business and into the individual lives of the family members, Clare just looks on aghast as everyone simpers around this rather lovely-looking younger woman, with a holier-than-thou lifestyle. But let’s be honest, none of the characters are endearing, they all have ingrained, psychological flaws that made me glad that I was watching from the sidelines. I would much prefer a trip to the Amalfi Coast in the company of more edifying friends!
A few secrets, twists and turns and a climactic end make for a good and engrossing Summer read.