A Modern Family by Helga Flatland
Translated by Rosie Hedger
When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.
Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.
A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…
This is really a story many of us can easily identify with. A Modern Family (Orenda Books) by Helga Flatland and beautifully translated by Rosie Hedger. Many will not know Helga Flatland but she is already an award winning author in Norway after her debut novel Stay if You Can, Leave if You Must. This is now her fifth novel and follows three siblings. Liv, Ellen and Hakon and all their respective family members travel to Italy for their father’s birthday celebrations in what should be a grand affair. But what if all does not go as planned?
Their parents are the glue to which the family are bonded. But the glue has come unstuck as the extended family arrive in Rome for the celebrations their parents have an announcement to make. They are getting a divorce! BOMBSHELL! No-one was expecting this. It has come out of no-where and no warning of this announcement.
The initial shockwave is like watch what happens when a pebble is thrown onto a pond. The ripples extend outwards through each the families and how they come to terms with the news their parents have dropped on them. For Liv who is also the elder of the children, this has hit her hard and we follow her world as it has come to a standstill. For Ellen she is more or less the quieter of the siblings and then the young member Hakon who is the brother.
Each of the family member’s lives is now the centre of the story and each one has something of interest to the reader and many like me will find themselves nodding in agreement with certain parts of the storyline. ‘Yes I recognise this from my own family’ I won’t divulge too much about each of the three but they all have their hang-ups in life, just like we all do.
Helga Flatland has hit the nail on the head with A Modern Family as she has written a story that is not a thriller, or a crime novel, nor a romance novel but a novel based on a normal family. This could be my family or yours. This is about a family and each member and how they have come to terms with a piece of news that none were expecting to hear and how they now look at each other and their own relationships.
I want to just congratulate Helga Flatland on such a beautifully written and poignant novel. She describes a normal family with such vibrancy and the characters could be any of us. This is a novel that just reached out to me and one I did not really want to come to an end. Helga Flatland you have nailed it. One book I would recommend for your holiday read this Summer. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of A Modern Family by Helga Flatland
A Modern Family by Helga Flatland was published by Orenda Books and was published on 13th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.