Cover Image: A Family Affair

A Family Affair

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Member Reviews

Two years ago Frankie ran away from a relationship which ended in a dramatic and heartbreaking way. After touring some countries and staying with relatives in Sicily ,working on their farm she is ordered home by her father and grandfather to take her place in the pickle and preserve factory they own.
We then hear about her Aunty Pam and her broken relationship when she was just 16 and how to this day she still thinks about her lost love.

It was good to be back in Midhope and hear the mention of some characters from previous books as well as Clementine's restaurant which is still doing good.
I enjoyed this story. I really didn't guess how it would turn out for Frankie but I did feel like giving her a kick and tell her to get on with her life and not to still be stuck wanting someone after two years.
There were lots of threads running through the story that I thought could have been expanded further, like Frankie's relationship with her brother as it was only just getting started.  And the beehives and their honey, I felt like Cameron was going to explore that more. And who won the election.
Maybe we'll get those answers in another book to follow.
I always enjoy Julie Houston's books.
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At the risk of repeating myself, as I say this every time I read a Julie Houston novel, I absolutely loved this book! The skilful intertwining of multiple characters, points of view and timelines is such a joy to read, and shows Julie Houston's absolute mastery of storytelling. Pam and Frankie are both fully realised, engaging characters, and their twin stories drive this novel forward to a satisfying and emotional conclusion. I adored the colours and flavours in this book, from the food, the settings, the characters themselves, and found the attention to detail fascinating, whether it was describing a Sikh wedding or a beekeeping project for asylum seekers. The heart stopping moment, in the third act, with the beehives, will stay with me always. 

This book gave me a massive lift in the end stages of the global pandemic, and is just the riot of colour, humour, pathos and love, friendship and romantic, that anyone needs to put a smile on their face and a spring in their step. Little glimpses of characters from past books were absolutely lovely, too. Thank you so much to Julie Houston and Aria Fiction for another wonderful read - I'm already waiting impatiently for the next one!
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I enjoyed this book.  I liked the flow of the story.  There were many different characters to connect with.  Some of them had some very strong personalities and it was fun getting to know them.
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Unfortunately I was not drawn into this story. Although there were some very likeable characters in it, there were too many others that I did not like and was not particularly interested in reading about them. I also had very mixed feelings about the swapping of times, "now" and "then". I wanted to go forward with the story so I found reminiscing about the past a bit too much. But my biggest problem was that I could not relate to the heroine Francesca. Unforunately I felt no connection with her.  
But all these are so subjective feelings. Maybe I was simply not in the right mood for this story. I suppose I'll try it another time again.
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Thank you NetGalley, Julie Houston and Aria & Aries for the ARC of A Family Affair. This is my personal review.
This was a story covering four decades and had two strong woman , Frankie, and Auntie Pam. Their lives were so well described  to give me a great family drama. Giving me them in both past and present was a good way to get me to know them better and see why their lives were as they were in the story.
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Book Review of A Family Affair by Julie Houston 
The novel tells the story of Frankie Piccione and her Aunt Pam, showing both the past and present of their lives.  Aunt Pam’s story starts in the 1970’s, as a fifteen-year-old joining family firm Piccione’s.  The novel shows the sorrow she faces at losing the love of her life and marrying at a young age.  Back in the present, she is retiring from Piccione’s as her niece Frankie, returns from travelling the world to join the family firm.  Three years ago, Frankie left home after her romance ended in heartbreak.  Now that both women are moving on with their lives, could there be a second chance at happiness for them both?
My thoughts 
The vivid details in the novel gave a clear picture of the past and present.  I thought the historical section gave a great sense of the 1970’s.  The characters were well rounded and I really got to know them well as the novel progressed.  The portrayal of the two young women, Pam in the 1970’s and Frankie in the present day were realistic and drew me into the narrative.  I really felt for both of the characters with all the problems and obstacles they went through and wanted them to find happiness in their lives.  
I thought the author also provided great cultural details for the Piccione family as well as Frankie’s love interest Daler.  I enjoyed learning new information about these two different cultures. 
Would I recommend this book?
Overall, I found this to be an absorbing read that provided a great insight into Frankie and her Aunt Pam’s life as part of the Piccione family.  A great family drama and romantic read. 
I gave this novel five out of five stars.  With thanks to NetGalley and Aria for this ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
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Even a few days after this I can't quite decide how I feel about this book. It was different than what I was expecting based on the description and I found Frankie kind of a disappointing character. She is smart and tough in some ways and almost pathetically weak in others. I understand that her heart was broken by Daler, but it was three years ago! Toughen up and stop letting that man run you out of town. Their big reconciliation scene felt rushed and incomplete. I had to read the section multiple times because I was sure I had missed something - was he the one who knocked her over, or did he just pin her down when she was already on the ground? I know that's something silly to get frustrated by, but it just made the entire moment feel off. I also didn't like that he basically tells her it's her fault he couldn't make his marriage work (even though his wife was already hooking up with some other guy) - I'm not sure that's what he meant, but it is basically what he said. My last complaint with regard to Frankie is that I didn't think it was fair that the blame for her bad relationship with her brother was her fault for not reaching out to him more. He acts like she's been on vacation for the entire time she was gone when she was the one actually learning to work on their family's land and understand the products their business was making.

As for Pam, her story is just too depressing to handle. Marco treats her horribly and it's all forgiven because he was hiding the fact that he was gay. He left her with a newborn and barely looked back. I love that she fought for herself, got an education, and took her place in the business rather than sitting around feeling bad for herself. I'm also so glad she got her second chance with her first love.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy. 

After being away for two years, Frankie has had enough of running away from her responsibilities. 

Now, she’s thinking it’s time she took her place on the board of the family business. 

The business Piccione's Pickles and Preserves is not doing so well and she thinks she can turn the sad state of the business into a happy one.

With her brother Luca and a Cameron watching her, she knows that her plan to bring the Piccione to where it should be is going to need to be special, and also to prove that she belongs in the board.

Aunt Pam and Daisy, help her and now that she’s got something to aim for she’s thriving.  

But, her past is back, and now it could ruin everything she’s overcome. 

Until someone from her past walks right back into her life and threatens to ruin everything.

Recommend It.
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I read this book over a weekend in my  back garden and it was the perfect place to be, it's a joyful story, with characters you'll love - poor Aunt Pam has had her dramas and Frankie is finding her way, but I very much enjoyed the journey with them both in Westonbury. There's lot's in this book, but mostly, it's exactly what we need right now, feel good fiction from someone who knows how to tell a good tale. Bravo!
Another gorgeous read from Julie Houston!
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Spanning four decades, with two formidable leading ladies, Julie Houston's latest novel, deftly weaves together the personal stories of Frankie and her Auntie Pam. 

Being back in Westonbury was a joy. Meeting new characters that are well drawn and situations that resonate. Once again Ms Houston manages to expertly balance light and shade - tackling cultural and social issues and sketching awkward situations with a fabulous wit and humour.

A cracking read.

Highly Recommend.
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I love reading stories by this author and this one really was up with them all. Loved the family drama surrounding the story. Nice to have the daughter return home to the family business which always uncovers secrets.
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While  Daisy and Pam drew me in a while kept my attention, I had a difficult time finding other characters as likable. It’s still an enjoyable book and story though.
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The Board Room Is Calling....
The family board room is calling for Frankie Piccione but can she make the business work? I do enjoy Julie Houston's writing - always engaging and often difficult to disengage with. 'A Family Affair ' was no exception to this. Credible scenarios, strong women - a tale told with empathy but certainly no lack of humour. An excellent read. If new to this author then I would strongly recommend 'The One Saving Grace' and 'Goodness Grace And Me' - both excellent reads amongst others.
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Julia Houston has done it again! Another wonderful book that finished far to early for my liking! Another 200 pages might  have just about pleased me!
Francesca Piccione has returned to Yorkshire after 'running away' two years previously after having her heart broken. She is asked to join the family firm Piccione's Pickles & Preserves to bring new ideas to the company. The family are a complex lot with many secrets & untruths hidden. Through the book, they are revealed & you see the characters very differently. Loved the links to past books through characters & places.  
Now hurry up Julia & write another, I know it's not too much to ask!
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I didn’t expect to be so drawn in to the characters in this book and half expected a slightly twee storyline. But actually it contained a wide breadth of themes and was so interesting. Frankie & Pam (auntie and niece) had a lovely relationship and the story flitted between the past for Pam, the past for Frankie and the now. It was all very seamless and easy to follow. The characters seemed believable and it was an easy and enjoyable read.
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Hmm where to start with this. Let's say the good bits first:

The best friend, Daisy, was such a good friend and so nice, that I found myself wanting my very own Daisy

The aunt Pam was such a wonderful woman with such a hard life that throughout I was itching to see her get a happy ending more than the main character Francesca

The bad:

I found Francesca and Daler's story top unrealistic. Who falls in love so hard and fast in just 3 months that it prevents them from ever dating again for years.

Cameron the American didn't come across as likeable though it seemed the author wanted the reader to like him. It was just his attitude towards people that wasn't very nice.

All in all I wouldn't say it's a bad book, but the above points combined with what I felt wasn't an ending (you only saw Pam's ending and nothing really of Francesca's, and even then it was rather rushed) make me unlikely to recommend, but it's not bad to read to kill some time (I have stopped reading books part way through before because they're either really frustrating or not held my interest). 3 out of 5
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Family stories with a few generations thrown in,their drama, conflicts and an ending paved with good old tough love, some laughs, friendships is what makes them a fantastic reading experience. A family affair delivers a fabulous story and is great on a summer day with a few drinks at hand.
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Good writing and very enjoyable . A story about a family and their lives . 
I received this novel from net galley and the publisher as an ARC. Thank you! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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