Title: The Sunday Lunch Club
Author: Juliet Ashton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 19 April 2018
The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.
Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.
Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.
Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?
Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.
The Sunday Lunch Club is a character-driven story about family bonds and acceptance. Ever since the Piper parents retired abroad, the siblings have been meeting for Sunday lunch. Not every week nor even every month, but when they do it’s a real family affair. The one rule of the lunch club is ‘don’t make any afternoon plans’ because each lunch carries on until early evening.
Each chapter is set in one of the sibling’s homes and opens with the Sunday lunch menu served at that meeting of the Sunday Lunch Club. I love this little addition as I think the menu choices give the reader a little insight into each of the hosts.
The Sunday Lunch Club is an immersive tale, dragging the reader into the bosom of the Piper family and allowing them a unique insight into the family dynamics and dramas that make them who they are.
Being a character-driven novel the characters are, of course, very well-crafted. There are the four siblings, pregnant Anna, hippy Maeve, insensitive Neil and quiet baby-of-the-family Josh, their Irish grandmother Dinkie and a range of partners, ex-partners, friends and children. It is a reminder that some family we are born with and some family we choose. Each and every character demonstrates strengths, weaknesses, flaws and hidden depths which forms their distinctive personalities. They all have their own fears and secrets which they struggle to share with each other. They are also quite critical of each other, as only families can be. I wanted to read about those appealing characters and learn more about their motivations and secrets.
The story is also one of second chances and belonging. It explores the power of forgiveness and acceptance, reminding us how much approval can mean to people and how it is possible to feel completely alone even when surrounded by people.
The writing is warm, witty and wise. The plot is thought-provoking and quirky. Overall The Sunday Lunch Club is a captivating read – light-hearted, feel-good and funny. It is a story that really packs an emotional punch and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is the written version of comfort food (I’m thinking a warm steamed pudding and custard!) and my favourite of Ashton’s books so far.
Thank you to Sara-Jade and Books and the City for providing me with a review copy of The Sunday Lunch Club.
About the Author
Juliet Ashton was born in Fulham and still lives in London. She writes under a variety of names, including her real name, Bernadette Strachan, and as Claire Sandy. She is married and has one daughter. Find out more at http://www.berniestrachan.com