Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Tell the truth? How could she? 
Angela stared at the screen for a long moment. Then she started a new letter, typing faster than she'd ever typed before. 

Title - Hello from the Gillespies
Author - Monica McInerney
Publisher - Penguin Books (UK)
Publication Date - 6th November 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

Angel Gillespie has been pretending that her family is perfect for the last 30 years. And she is tired of it. This year she needs to tell it how it is. 

Angela's husband is in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up daughters are more out of control than ever. And her youngest child spends all of his time talking to an imaginary friend. With fantasy thoughts of a life before marriage and motherhood becoming more than just an innocent daydream, Angela's real life is slowly slipping out of focus. But, as the repercussions of her too truthful Christmas letter keep coming, perhaps she should have been careful what she wished for...

Becca's thoughts

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney was wonderful. In every single sense of the word, it was truly, utterly wonderful. 

I'd like to say a very heartfelt thank you to the publishers Penguin Books UK for accepting me for an eBook copy of Hello from the Gillespies on Net Galley. And an extra special thank you to the author Monica McInerney for providing me with such a beautiful, charming read. I only had to read the provided blurb when I spotted this title on Net Galley, and within moments I had clicked 'Request'. 

I think firstly, I should state that I am a total family girl, through and through. If you didn't already know, I'm the eldest of seven children, and so I can easily relate to the hectic, maniacal environment that was presented perfectly to me as Monica began to tell Angela Gillespie's story. I have always been, and probably always will be, drawn to books like this one. They're so full of life, bursting at the seams with warmth and togetherness, that frantic thrum of activity that comes freely alongside having a family. It makes me think of home, of when I used to bang on the bathroom door for whoever was inside to hurry the hell up, the arguments between me and my sister. I felt like I had been taken right back to that time in my life from reading Monica's descriptions of Angela and her delightfully colourful family, and it was, quite simply, sublime. 

The entire story stemmed from the Gillespie's annual Christmas letter, that Angela wrote each year, and sent out to their family and friends across the world on December the first. A family tradition that had seemed to stick, Angela kept it up, year after year, updating everybody on the Gillespie's life, and how each member of the family were doing. The letters were such an inviting way to inform the reader of all that had passed previously, and I felt like I was being beckoned into the family fold by reading them. Angela had written so many of these letters in the years gone by, despite the rest of her family not showing the slightest bit of interest in them, and I felt that they were such a sweet aspect to the story. Also, the fact that Angela still kept to the tradition of writing them added heaps to her character for me. I looked upon Angela as motherly, nurturing, and incredibly dedicated to her family. The letters were not written solely to be sent out, they were written so that one day, the Gillespie's would look back over their lives, and smile to themselves as they each revisited their history.

There was just a slight problem with the letters though, and again, I found myself relating to Angela once more. Within the letters, she didn't exactly tell the truth, but who would want to? Family life is messy at the best of times. There are always dramas, arguments, events that tip everything upside down, but Angela smoothed over the truth, and kept her writing light and cheery. After all, who would be even remotely interested in the real ins-and-outs of the Gillespie's? 

When the story took an amusing turn for the worst, I couldn't help but squeeze my eyes shut and groan, "Noooo". Not only had Angela geared herself up and written a full-length letter detailing every single truth about what had happened within the last year with her kooky family, but it was also sent, to each and every one of the people who were on the recipient list. I could not bloody believe it when Monica took this turn with the plot! I was gob-smacked. I just kept thinking to myself, "Oh God! What the hell is Angela going to do now?" I knew from the moment that the letter had been sent, things were going to get a little crazy, and boy was I right, and wow, how I loved it! The awful thing was, Angela hadn't even meant to send the letter, it had been sent by mistake, but it was too late once she realised, and people across the world had already begun to read it. Angela left no stone un-turned when she wrote that letter, and people were going to see the cold, hard truth about the Gillespie's, whether she liked it or not. 

I was hooked. It was such a refreshing, original story, with a completely new spin on things that I had never experienced until now. It was fun, entertaining, enjoyable, and that whole family feel just shone right on through to the very end, despite the storm that what was going on around them. Of course, as with every family, there were countless ups-and-downs, and I found myself hoping that they would pull through once it was all over and done with. It's safe to say that that one Christmas letter, with the subject line of 'Hello from the Gillespies', changed everything

By the end of the story, I felt as though the Gillespies were my own family friends. Each and every family member came with their own personality and characteristics, from Ig, the youngest child who spent most of his time with his imaginary friend Robbie, right up to the eldest girls, who also happened to be twins, Victoria and Genevieve, who were able to communicate without even talking to each other. There was also Lindy, the middle-child, who found it frustrating to not be included in her older sister's tight bond, but who endlessly entertained me with her cushion-making business. And then there was Nick, their father and Angela's husband, who was obsessed with figuring out his family tree and finding out where the Gillespie's name stemmed from. So many marvellous characters with their own individual stories, which came together as one big gorgeous mind-blower and wowed me. 

I am over the moon to have been given the chance to read Hello from the Gillespies. It was absolutely stunning. And on that note, I'm going to finish off by rating this heart-warming story with a rating of five cupcakes from Becca's Books. The perfect read for lovers of hectic families, the uncovering of messy truths, and the discovery of returning to your roots and finding out just how much you adore them. 




1 comment :

  1. I really enjoyed this one, although I felt like about 100 pages could have been cut from the middle. It felt a bit too much like a soap opera for a bit of the middle section, but I loved the beginning, and it got back on track at the end. Overall, a great read!