Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg

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Did you ever have a family? caused quite a stir when it was published last year.  It is the debut novel of Bill Clegg – a literary agent who had previously written two volumes of his memoir detailing his addiction to crack cocaine – and was subsequently longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

This is the story of June, a woman who has lost her family in a domestic accident on the morning of her daughter’s wedding.  Numb and needing to get out of her small Connecticut town, June gets in her car and drives.  Eventually she arrives at a small motel on the Pacific Coast and there she starts to heal.

A lot of the story is told in flashback and as we move towards the time of the accident, more and more is revealed.  There is a cast of narrators – some with more to offer than others – who gradually fill in the story until we finally reach the day of the wedding and at last have the answers we’ve sought.

Did you ever have a family? is beautifully written with a compelling plot.  It took a while to get used to the changing narrators but I felt that structurally it worked well.  I enjoyed this book greatly and look forward to reading whatever Bill Clegg writes next.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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