Saturday, November 18, 2017

Just Like Family by Kate Hilton

I really wanted to read this book for two reasons:  first, I read Hilton's debut novel, The Hole in the Middle, and enjoyed it; and second, I really admire her.  Hilton is a lawyer turned novelist who has met with some success and her second novel did not disappoint.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't fine literature, but it is entertaining reading with interesting characters and a somewhat predictable plot line which doesn't detract from the overall experience.

I did like the twist in the lead character's life - Avery Graham started as a writer and then went to law school and became first a lawyer, then chief of staff to the Toronto mayor.  Most people in real life seem to take the opposite path.  I like how the story moves back and forth in time - the present day drama of life in the mayor's office gets interwoven with Avery's childhood, and wandering young adulthood as she comes to terms with her father's premature death and tries to figure out what to do with her life.

Avery is now juggling the demands of Peter, her "work husband" and the mayor who she has known (and had a crush on) since childhood.  It is clear to the reader and everyone else around her that he's an ass who has taken advantage of her devotion for years.  It takes some pretty dramatic revelations about him (which I will not spoil by sharing) for her to begin to see the truth.

She is also trying to figure out how to respond to the marriage proposal from her long time live in partner.  She loves Matt, but she had an early disastrous marriage to Hugh which seems to make her gun shy.  She is particularly guilty about how she ended things with Hugh and seems afraid to take the chance of hurting Matt in the same way.

We also see her interesting relationships with her mother, her two friends from high school (one who is now also her sister-in-law), other members of city council, representatives of special interest groups and her ex-husband.  But at its heart the book is about Avery and how she continuously struggles to find her place in the world.

An easy and worthwhile read.

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