Relative Strangers

The McKay family gathers for a week-long holiday at a rambling old house to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Robert and Mary. In recent years only funerals and sudden, severe illnesses have been able to draw them together and as they gather in the splendid rooms of Hunting Manor, their differences are soon uncomfortably apparent. For all their history, their traditions, the connective strands of DNA, they are relative strangers. There are truths unspoken, but the question is: how much truth can a family really stand? The family holiday mushrooms, drawing in sundry relatives both estranged and deranged. The machinations of an appalling, uninvited aunt threaten the holiday – and the family – with irreparable damage, but, surprisingly, out of the chaos, a hesitant unity, a new honesty, begins to emerge. Just as the older generations of the family begin to forge a fresh but infinitely fragile foundation, crisis amongst the youngsters erupts with tragic, bloody consequences.


A very fine observance of character …. as though she is watching developments from a hidden corner
the complex politics, desires and heartache of family relationships are at the heart of this book

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Excerpt

June staggered from her bedroom onto the landing. As overcome by hysteria as she had been at the arrival of the police, she had not disrobed, and her suit, badly creased, was sadly in disarray. As she had tossed and turned in her distress, it had ridden up to her thighs and now remained there, caught up, unfortunately, in the fastenings of her capacious girdle. Her unhappiness at the consequences of Sandra’s mistake had caused her to take refuge in a large quantity of cognac. On an empty stomach, this had proved unwise, and June had been copiously sick. The evidence of this was also a sad detriment to her appearance. 
Her hair, normally so strictly controlled, firmly permed and heavily sprayed, was also markedly awry. Indeed, a good portion of her curls seemed to be slipping down over one eye in such a peculiar way that the possibility of their not being, in fact, attached to her head, couldn’t help but suggest itself to the onlookers. June’s make-up, generously applied, had travelled unchecked across her visage and the combination of smeared eye shadow and smudged mascara made her look like a victim of a terrible attack. Her lipstick formed a vivid gash across her mouth. 
The sum of these parts was not happy, and June herself was plainly anything but pleased. As the ardent squeaks and chirrups of her orgasmic daughter emanated down the landing, June’s roar of fury rose to meet them. She pointed savagely at Muriel, blissfully enfolded in the bosom of the McKay family, but her anger was inarticulate; it stuck in her throat and choked her, until it was expelled with astonishing velocity before a shining stream of vomit, which propelled it decoratively onto the opposite landing wall.