The Family Next Door, Sally Hepworth


There was a small spark of interest at the beginning of the story. As I went through the chapters, I'm looking for something different than the previous chapter that but it's a disappointment. This story keeps telling or rambling about these three women's lives with their husbands and children. There was a chapter about Ange wants a daughter and clarified herself that she still loves her two sons, but she prefers to have a daughter. Fran's struggling life with her recovered depression husband, exercise addiction, and her affair. But across most of the chapters, they share the same thing, which is about their frustrations of taking care of their children and feeling so melted every time their husbands helping them with the kids. And it keeps repeating every chapter together with their problems. I feel I'm reading a suburban mother's diary and not one but three. It keeps telling the readers what their husbands do when helping them taking care of the kids and even making sandwiches. Why do we need to know so many irrelevant details about their husbands? Why does the story keep telling us how good their husbands in doing housework and taking care of the children?

Fran just keeps running, trying to forget her affair or possible illegitimate child. Essie keeps drinking and obsessed with Isabelle, trying to avoid taking care of her daughters. Ange drinks and obsessed in stalking her husband and thinking another woman who is probably her husband's mistress. Isabelle sounds out of her mind and determines to take back something when she moves to the suburb.

What's wrong with all these women? Comparing their lives with each other, and there are times feeling their lives are harder than their husbands but sometimes feel more successful than them. I don't know how I can finish most of the story in a day. It's very dull and repetitive about their lives, their husbands and children.

I feel sorry that there was a rage inside me about this book. I mean the author has put her effort and time to write this story. If I don't like to read it, I can just move on with a different book, and I don't have to be that harsh. In recent years, there are so many similar stories, and I've read quite a lot of them. I would prefer a story which focuses on the storyline itself, not too many irrelevant details, and most important is less judgemental or personal opinions from the author himself or herself.

This book keeps planting the seed into women's mind that what a husband should do and what is considered as a good husband (together with a list of housework). Another thing I don't like about this story is heavily promoting how tough of being a mother (just mother, being a father seems not difficult for the author). Everyone knows parenting is not easy, but this book is like screaming out, telling us that being a mother is the toughest job. Everyone in the world should understand them, and they have the rights to make mistakes because they have so many things to juggle at the same time. Since someone offers to take care of the kids, they deserved to go out or have drinks with friends because they work so hard. Alcohol is what they need because they need a solution. These are the people that will tell anyone without children "you don't have kids, you won't understand". But the thing is some people do really understand (or trying to) but if you keep complaining and seeking the attention of understanding, people won't understand why. Everyone has multiple roles to play in their lives, and no one doesn't have any struggles with it. I don't know how to explain better, but I know the more I'm trying, there are more mothers will go after me. In short, I just don't like anyone who thinks that the world just only revolves around him or her. I'm alright with the moderate conversation about kids but please don't put my ears into test (if smoke comes out eventually) or at least once in a while let my mind wander off somewhere.

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth.

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