At the Table

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Pub Date 31 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2022

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'The kind of rare story you want to nosedive into on a hot hungover weekend and slurp down like iced coffee - cold, sweet and quenching...a summer read to devour with suncream and spilt rosé - and then lend to your mum or your daughter' The Times

'At the Table is a hugely intelligent, emotionally astute novel about family dynamics, and Claire Powell is an incredible new talent' Marian Keyes

'An assured, exquisitely drawn novel that fans of Sorrow And Bliss will adore' Sarra Manning, Red magazine

To Nicole and Jamie Maguire, their parents seem the ideal couple - a suburban double act, happily married for more than thirty years. So when Linda and Gerry announce that they've decided to separate, the news sends shockwaves through the siblings' lives, forcing them to confront their own expectations and desires.

Hardworking - and hard-drinking - Nicole pursues the ex she unceremoniously dumped six years ago, while people-pleasing Jamie fears he's sleepwalking into a marriage he doesn't actually want. But as the siblings grapple with the pressures of thirtysomething life, their parents struggle to protect the fragile façade of their own relationship, and the secrets they've both been keeping.

Set in 2018, Claire Powell's beautifully observed debut novel follows each member of the Maguire family over a tumultuous year of lunches, dinners and drinks, as old conflicts arise and relationships are re-evaluated. A gripping yet tender depiction of family dynamics, love and disillusionment, At the Table is about what it means to grow up - both as an individual, and as a family.

'Painfully funny, acutely well-observed, powerfully resonant in its humanity and emotional accuracy. I missed this book whenever I wasn't reading it' Luke Kennard

'A brilliant, coruscating depiction of dysfunctional family life. SO astute, on so many levels. I loved it' Hannah Beckerman

'The kind of rare story you want to nosedive into on a hot hungover weekend and slurp down like iced coffee - cold, sweet and quenching...a summer read to devour with suncream and spilt rosé - and...

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EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780349727042
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

This was such a clever and interesting book that i think was unlike anything I have read. It was well written with good character development and setting. One of the things that made this book so interesting and clever was using the settings that were all focused upon eating and drinking such as restaurants, family dinners around the kitchen table, bars, cafes etc and used that to explore family dynamics and I loved it.
I couldnt put it down it was so clever.

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Thank you to Netgalley & Little, Brown Book Group UK for this ARC!

This family drama is set around the Maguire family, the parents Gerry & Linda and their two grown up children Nicole and Jamie. It examins the subsequent knock-on effect of the parents seperation on each member of the family.

I absolutely devoured this novel. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. A well written, interesting and great paced story which explores a number of important issues such as post natal depression, anxiety, generational trauma & alcoholism.

This novel is divided into seasons, which I loved as it paces the Novel really well. Each chapter revolves around eating/drinking hence the title "At the Table". This never felt repetitive and often felt like an easter egg when you realised where the "table" was within the chapter. It also made me realise how often we celebrate or commiserate over food. How food plays such a huge part in the milestones of our life.
This felt like such such an original and unique set up.
My favourite character award definitely goes to Jamie; I could read another whole book from his POV. His storyline was excellent, well written and how the writer describes anxiety and depression felt so personal and true to life.

Gerry's character is also from the same town in Northern Ireland as me, which I was so excited to see represented, that may have played a little part in my overall enjoyment of this novel!

An emotional, engrossing and well written debut novel from Claire Powell. Definitely worth picking up!

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At The Table follows the four members of the Maguire family over a year ,2018, of lunches, dinners and drinks. This a year of big changes starting with a belated Mother’s Day lunch where parents Linda and Gerry announce to their adult children, hard working party girl Nicole and peace keeper soon to be married but unsure if that is what he wants Jamie, they are splitting up after more than 30 years of marriage what follows is the story of the fall out from this out of blue shock. Each chapter is a different family member giving both their own part of the story, some background story and the ongoing family story, this is centred round a meal or drink-meeting in the pub at lunchtime, curry with dad, friends over dinner- old conflicts come to head, words had and more importantly not had, tears are cried, wine is drunk in this funny, well observed, sometimes too accurate portrayal of family life… we can all relate on some level

To say I enjoyed this book is a understatement I thought it was truly fabulous. From chapter one the book was layered with “realisms” that were so true I felt I was at the dinner table with my own family, from the dance of who is having starters, the phone scrolling tic, to the way we fall into assigned roles the instant we sit to break bread with our family. It is so true to life.

The story is well paced, character driven, heartwarming, tender, funny and true. The outcome isn’t a fairy tale ending but it’s resolved, much like in real life things can never be perfect for me that added to the well written true to life nature of the book. The way the story is told and how it processes is a clever idea, it gives the book a fresh feel and further adds to the realness, I mean when you think of your family met ups how often does it involve a meal/drinks/coffee. If you like your books true to life and character lead this novel is for you.

Thank you so much NetGalley, the author Claire Powell( a brilliant new talent) and Little, Brown Book Group Uk for this ARC. I’ve just pre ordered a copy for my mum and sister to read sure they will enjoy it as much as I did.

Footnote- love the cover it captures the book perfectly

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Whilst the concept of exploring family dynamics through a series of meal-focused episodes may sound formulaic, such is the skill of Claire Powell’s writing and her understanding of the human condition that ‘At the Table’ is anything but.
In the opening pages, during a Mother’s Day lunch, Gerry and Linda Maguire tell their adult children, Nicole and Jamie, that their marriage has ended. The novel deals with the fall-out. Nicole and Jamie are stunned; their reactions to this remind us that, however old we are, we are always our parents’ children. Nicole storms out and Powell’s description of her as she walks directionless in central London captures her shock and panic superbly: ‘She keeps walking purposeful yet utterly directionless. Up into Soho, Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, feeling nothing and everything and like the only thing she needs to do right now is burn off the hot, useless energy that’s rushing inside her.’
Post-announcement, career woman Nicole continues to binge drink and have hopeless one-night stands whilst fantasising that things would be better with her former boyfriend Ollie, whom she found boring and predictable a few years earlier. Jamie is marrying Lucy, his partner of ten years, but it’s not just the frantic wedding planning that he’s finding discombobulating. Over the course of the narrative, like their parents, Jamie and Nicole grow to understand that people alter and adjustments happen - this is normal; family is no more set in aspic than any of its individual members. And if all this sounds a little earnest for some, Claire Powell’s storytelling ensures that there are plenty of comedic as well as poignant moments.
Whilst the central focus is on the utterly believable Maguire family, the author’s depiction of Lucy’s parents, Nicole and Jamie’s colleagues and Linda’s ‘old biddy’ neighbour are all equally perceptive. Readers who value pitch-perfect character depiction and an intelligent exploration of social mores will quickly become engrossed in this novel.
My thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group UK, Fleet for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.

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