FAMILY GAMES by Jean Stubbs


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 The story of a family reunion, told with wit and compassion by an accomplished novelist (Kelly Park, 1992, etc.). The 1980s have been a difficult decade for the Malpas clan, and when Blanche Malpas is invited to a traditional family Christmas by her mother, she is skeptical. She wonders why Sybil, self-made matriarch and martyr, continues her efforts to reunite a hopelessly irreconcilable group of relatives. Despite her doubts, Blanche takes her baby son to Minions, the family home in Cornwall. Also there are Tony, her imperious professor father, for whom Blanche's son, who was born out of wedlock, is a source of contention; Teddy, her sweet but weak-willed brother, and his children; and flighty Lydia, Blanche's sister, with her ``friend'' Freddie. Things begin calmly, if with a minimum of goodwill, but the quiet (along with Sybil's heirloom soup tureen) is broken upon the arrival of three uninvited guests: Daniel, the father of Blanche's son; Katrina, Teddy's estranged wife; and Aunt Tasha, Tony's itinerant twin sister. Tensions run high, and Sybil is hard- pressed to keep everyone happy--herself included. She exchanges harsh words with Tasha; Katrina and Teddy come to blows over the custody of their children; Blanche and Tony resume their long-waged war of wills. Revelations range from the unexpected to the startling, the most shocking of them related to the mystery of Blanche's parentage. Finally, there are the reconciliations: Sybil with Tony, Blanche with Daniel, Teddy to his divorce, Lydia with herself. Blanche and her father, acknowledging the inevitable complexity of relationships, manage to overcome their differences- -or rather their similarities--and discover their deep and abiding love. A poignant love story on many levels, with characters and relationships that are both multidimensional and believable. Stubbs treats the tale of a family's resurrection with delicacy and insight. (First printing of 40,000)

Pub Date: June 27th, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10437-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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