BLOG TOUR ~ A Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy

Nothing looks as good in real life as it does in the brochure.

Title - A Very Big House in the Country
Author - Claire Sandy
Publication Date - July 30th 2015
Publisher - Pan Macmillan
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

'Holidays are about surviving the gaps between one meal and another.'

For one long hot summer in Devon, three families are sharing one very big house in the country. The Herreras: made up of two tired parents, three grumbling children and one promiscuous dog; the Littles: he's loaded (despite two divorces and five kids), she's gorgeous, but maybe the equation for a truly happy marriage is a bit more complicated than that; and the Browns, who seem oddly jumpy around people, but especially each other.

By the pool, new friendships blossom; at the aga door, resentments begin to simmer. Secret crushes are formed and secret cigarettes cadged by the teens, as the adults loosen their inhibitions with litres of white wine and start to get perhaps a little too honest...

Mother hen to all, Evie Herreras has a life-changing announcement to make, one that could rock the foundations of her family. But will someone else beat her to it?

Becca's thoughts

Since having read Claire Sandy's debut with Pan Macmillan, What Would Mary Berry Do?, back in 2014 (see my review here), I have been anticipating the arrival of her next novel with baited breath. I was absolutely thrilled when I found the cover of A Very Big House in the Country floating around in the Twittersphere, even more so when I read the blurb, promptly deciding that I would most definitely be reading the author's next book with Pan. The cover, much like the cover of Claire Sandy's previous novel, had me all goggle-eyed and excited, and the blurb even more so, so you can imagine my utter delight when I received an email inviting me along to be a part of the blog tour for the upcoming release of what looked, and sounded, like a marvellous book! I was over the moon, replied with an eager YES, and couldn't wait to begin reading.

After reading the blurb of A Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy, I was delighted to find that again, similar to her previous book with Pan, a family theme would very much be taking centre-stage. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If ever there is a novel that is focusing on a family, or more than one family as this novel so smoothly achieves, then chances are I'm going to enjoy it, especially when it's full of chaotic, mischievous and downright entertaining antics that keep me turning those pages As the blurb suggests, the plot is based around three very different families who join each other for a two-week stretch of a holiday in Wellcome Manor, Devon. If the name of the place wasn't enough to make you feel welcome (fabulous play on words, right?) then the beauty of the place will utterly win you over. This was a gorgeously addictive escapist read that completely whisked me away to Wellcome Manor, complete with swimming pool, tree house and sweeping garden. Claire truly brought the setting of her story to life for me, as if the very place itself rose from the screen of my Kindle. It was the most perfect place to escape to, with its impressive rooms, classic furniture and sheer holiday/get-away ambience. I found it incredibly easy to immerse myself within the story, with the help of the author's fantastic descriptions and pleasing imagery. 

The three families that Claire Sandy introduces the reader to as the novel begins to fully open its wings were so interesting, and very different in their own ways. The Herreras, the Ling-Littles and the Browns were three wonderfully, magically crafted families, each full of their own little surprises who definitely whipped the rug up from beneath my feet. There were some members of the families that I immediately warmed to, others that I didn't, but Claire, in her brilliant 'authorly' fashion, led me on, strung me along and somehow managed to change my opinion about almost of these characters at some unforeseeable moment within the novel. It really was a delight to be introduced to each member of each family, all of them complete with their own amusing characteristics, history, as well as likes and dislikes. From the very young to the mature adult, the reader is given a scope on every age and lifestyle of the characters within this book. It really opened my eyes to how easily we can, as readers, be led astray by the author, and it was just brilliant to experience such a pleasing way of storytelling at the hands of Claire Sandy. I was taken by surprise almost right the way through the novel, drip-fed tiny snippets from each characters own private life, handed numerous red-herrings that I so easily believed, and came to know each family as if they were my own. 

Claire Sandy injects so much character, warmth and familiarity into her books. I think I enjoy these family-themed novels so much because quite simply they remind me of my own. The hectic breakfast sessions at the kitchen table, the squabbling, arguing, followed by the inevitable making up. It made me smile, laugh, gasp, grin and smirk, evoked so many warm, happy emotions within me I felt like I, myself, was back at home. Claire achieves, endlessly, that genuine homely, comforting tone that I think we all grow to miss as we get older. As well as that gorgeous tone that resonates throughout the novel, this author always manages to include the life-lessons that we all end up learning one way or another.

Another little aspect that I completely adored about the telling of this story was, between every chapter or so, postcards would pop up, from differing family members staying in Wellcome House, which were being sent back home, whether that be to the neighbours or friends. I particularly enjoyed reading Mabel's postcards, who was the youngest member of the Herrera family. Such a little sweetheart, and adorably amusing too. 

A Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy (as well as putting Blur's Country House on repeat in my head since learning of the title) was one of those deliciously engulfing reads that have you so immersed in the lives of the characters within that you completely forget about reality and whatever else is going on around you. These are the types of novels that I love so much, and they are the novels that fire up my passion for reading even more. 

Becca's Books is awarding A Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy with FIVE SCRUMMY CUPCAKES! It was one of 'those' books that leave you sitting in a satisfied afterglow, one of those books that are so well told and so completely full of warmth and feeling that you feel completely satiated after turning the final page. I absolutely LOVED it, and cannot wait for more from this fantastic author who is quickly becoming a firm favourite of mine.

*Special thanks to Claire Sandy and Pan Macmillan for providing me with a digital copy of A Very Big House in the Country in exchange for a fair and honest review*

Don't forget to keep up with the rest of the A Very Big House in the Country blog tour!





  1. Great review! Wow, I definitely should read this book - I just got back from a big family holiday that sounds worryingly close to the setting for this book lol! Thanks for painting such a vivid and lovely picture, all the best x

    1. Hi, Natalie!
      Aurwh, thanks a million for stopping by, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the review. Honestly, this book was fantastic, and there were so many secrets too. The author had me thinking up all sorts of crazy things, haha. But I think you will LOVE IT!

      Becca xxx