The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare

'The thing is we're all the same, the whole family - all of us with our little secrets.'

Title - The Surprise Party
Author - Sue Welfare
Publication Date - March 30th 2011
Publisher - Avon
Format - Kindle Edition (Self-purchased)
Pages - 384

The blurb

One idyllic family, or so it seemed...

The party was supposed to be the ultimate surprise, but instead it turned out to be the most ordinary event of the day...

When warring sisters Suzie and Liz come together to organise a 40th anniversary party for their parents, they struggle to keep their personal dramas in check and make it a magical day.

Suzie is struggling to keep her marriage afloat and Liz is keen to retain her Queen Bee status. Their aunt and mother are much the same, with Lilly and Fleur at loggerheads over their very different lives.

Meanwhile Suzie's daughters Hannah and Megan are learning that growing up isn't as easy as their parents profess.

As the champagne flows and the drama unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that this is a party that no-one will ever forget - but will there be a happy family left at the end?

Becca's thoughts

When I first spotted the cover for Sue Welfare's The Surprise Party, and the blurb, I couldn't wait to get started. I adore stories surrounding families and the issues within, hidden just beneath surface, so I purchased this for my Kindle and really looked forward to getting stuck in. 

This is the first book that I've read by Sue. She is a completely new author, and since The Surprise Party was published back in 2011, it comforts me to know that I have a couple more of Sue's books to read when I fancy it! There are quite a few others out there so when I next have chance, I think I'm going to go and have a snoopy, because I thoroughly enjoyed The Surprise Party.

What I loved most about The Surprise Party was that, somehow, Sue managed to revolve the entirety of her novel around just one day, the day of the surprise party for the 40th anniversary of Rose and Jack. What I mean by this is that from the first page to the last, the surprise party stretches right the way between the pages, lasting right the way through, from the morning full of preparation to the evening full of madness! What surprised me was that, despite the entire novel being based around the anniversary party, not once did I find myself becoming disinterested. The party may have been the main focus of this novel, but breaking off from that were smaller branches, these being the separate issues of each member of the family. Gah, it was brilliantly thought-out and put together, well-plotted and very entertaining.

What made The Surprise Party truly come to life were Sue's fabulous characters. There was a tradition in the family where two girls were born to each woman. Rose and Fleur (mother and aunty), Suzie and Liz (sister's), Hannah and Megan (Suzie's daughters). Each generation of woman had bred two daughters and I found this so endearing, and loved that Sue had included it. The differences between the women were made very clear to me as soon as I began reading, from the youngest generation of women, right up to Rose and Fleur. Scenes between the sisters reminded me of me and my own and I felt so comforted by the bickering and the squabbles, as ridiculous as it sounds. Sue really achieved such an excellent job when it came to the family-like tone of the story. I loved being wrapped up in this world, with the excitement of the party and, later on, the unveiling of some pretty tricky secrets. Not only does the reader spend time with the older generations of the family as Sue switches between the characters' narratives, but we also get to see the world from Hannah's eyes too, who is in the throes of teenage-life, including booze, boyfriends and bad-influences. It was such a gorgeous mixture of ages and views, and made the novel all that more enjoyable.

Amongst the differences in the family fold, each member had something in common, and that was that they were hiding secrets from each other. As the novel progressed, these slowly began to seep out into the party atmosphere, and what was supposed to be a happy, joyous occasion soon turned into something else entirely, although the excitement on my part was still palpable. As a reader, I was watching the fall-out eagerly, wanting to see what would happen next. Each family member reacted to the revealing of these secrets in their own unique ways and this only made the family feel so much more real to me. Between the pages of The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare lay an intriguing tale, one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Becca's Books is awarding The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare with FOUR GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! If you're looking for a fun, heart-warming but excitable read, then The Surprise Party is most definitely for you!


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