So the newest by Cathy Kelly really hit home. I thought she did a great job with Freya and Freya's inner voice, Mildred. I also thought at times Freya was acting so unreasonable and I am glad that the book didn't hide away from how she was behaving at times. I also am glad that not everything ends up happily ever after with several real life events in Freya's life. I think with contemporary romances authors often want to make everyone be happy and in love and nothing really terrible happens. Kelly did a great job of showing how Freya and her family were broken by her father's stroke. And also did another great job of showing how Freya's sister was dealing with infertility. Though I gave this 5 stars I do wish that Kelly had showcased the lone brother in Freya's book. It was really just focused on her, her two sisters, and her mother. And of course Freya's obsession with her husband's ex-wife and her coming back to "claim" their daughter.
"The Family Gift" follows chef turned famous tv personality and cookbook author Freya Abalone. Freya though has a big secret, she's unable to think about cooking food right now and is totally blank on recipes to put together for her newest book. We quickly find out that Freya and her large loving family have recently moved, her father had a stroke several months earlier, her sister is dealing with infertility, and Freya is scared that at any moment her daughter's birth mother is going to push her way back in the scene. Freya we also find had something happen to her a few months earlier that has also affected her. Dealing with all of this would be a breeze except Freya has a critical inner voice which is constantly telling her she's not good enough. Things finally come to a head when her husband's first wife returns and seems as if she's focused on developing a relationship with their daughter.
First off, I really got Freya and liked her. She knows how lucky she is with her family, but she tends to want to smother everyone of them and not allow them any say in things. Her behavior with her eldest daughter Lexi is definitely one of those things she needs to lessen her grip on. Her wanting to be Lexi's only mother and being jealous at her birth mother is understandable, but the way she behaved about it for 2/3 of the book got to be a bit much after a while. Also I didn't really like how she kept interrogating her husband about why he got with his first wife and why did he marry her. It felt like at times I was watching a person pick at a scab in real time. Freya eventually realizes she needs to open herself and her family up in a different way and actually know that sometimes terrible things are going to happen, you just need to go on with it.
I thought Kelly did a great job with describing the two kids personality's (Lexi and her youngest daughter Teddy) but though her son got kind of ignored for the most part. And though we have Freya in love with her husband and talking about him a lot, I wish they actually had more one on one conversations in this book. I just felt at times the men got pushed aside.
The writing was really good and I thought Kelly did a great job with capturing that inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough. I think every person in the world has that voice, the trick is ignoring it. The flow was really great too. It takes a bit before we find out what caused Freya to lose her ability to cook something new and think of different recipes. And I liked her relationship with her food assistant and loved how Kelly went back and forth to show how Freya got discovered and how her "style" was figured out for her.
The ending I thought was really good. It shows a new phase in Freya's family, an honest one that is needed. I would love to read more stories told by others in this family's POV. I do wish that Kelly would take a page out of Maeve Binchy's books and revisit characters in other books and kind of tie them all together.