Saturday, January 2, 2016

Like Family; Paolo Giordano

Like Family; Paolo Giordano
Pamela Dorman Books - 2015

Like Family is simple yet powerful story that leaves the reader with plenty to think about in its 146 pages.    

The story is told by an unnamed narrator that we know learn very little about other than he is married and a physicist.  When his wife Nora, a decorator, requires bed rest for a difficult pregnancy, Mrs. A., a recent widow, sometimes referred to as Babette, comes into their lives as a caregiver to Nora. 

Mrs. A sits at Nora's bedside and chats with her, prepares meals and assumes housekeeping responsibilities and quickly becomes an integral part of the family.  When the couples infant son, Emanuele, is born Mrs. A's role expands to nanny, and is often mistaken for his grandmother.  She IS the glue that binds this family together.  

So when Mrs. A quits one day after some eight years, telling the family she's too tired to continue, it comes as a shock to a family who just does not know how to function and interact with each other without this woman's guidance.  So what becomes of the family and their relationship with Mrs. A. when her cancer diagnosis is revealed?

The story begins with the death of Mrs. A. and, a look back on the key role she played in the lives of this family. While Mrs. A. is rigid and set in her ways, tough and frank - never tempering what she feels she must say, she's just what this family needed.  The parents come across as shallow and cold and almost embarrassed that their young son does not seem to be as bright as his physicist father.

I loved everything about this story.  It's beautifully written (translated nicely from Italian) and comes across as a realistic portrait of what "family" is all about.  It's a story that left a lasting impression.  Highly recommended.

5/5 stars
(review copy)

Note - I also loved the debut novel by this author, The Solitude of Prime Numbers.

21 comments:

  1. I've heard great things about this book. I'm going to dig it out and put it near the top of my stacks.

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    1. I hope this one gets the wide readership that it deserves.

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  2. WOW, 5 outta 5 is darn impressive!

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  3. The description sounds so good... glad the book lived up to it!

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  4. This sounds very good and the premise is definitely unique. I'm glad it lived up to the first book. I will definitely have to look for it.

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  5. Sometimes, knowing the ending takes the pressure off the rest of the book. Sounds good.

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    1. Definitely - I don't mind when a story starts this way.

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  6. Right! I loved this too (as you likely know)

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  7. It sounds like the effects of Mrs. A not being around is a creative angle. Often stories such as this do not go into such territory and only concentrate on non family member's direct effects.

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    1. Yes Bryan, it was great seeing how the family would handle life without Mrs A.

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  8. This sounds like such a beautiful book--and I'm in kind of an Italian novel kick after starting the Neopolitan Novels...I'm going to have to check this one out!

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    1. I read the first 2/4 of the Ferrante series. I need to finish them this year. enjoy

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  9. Great review, Diane! This sounds like a wonderful novel. I love novels that explore family dynamics so I'll have to add this to my list.

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    1. Me too family dynamics and dysfunctional families are favorites for me.

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  10. This one sounds very interesting. Thanks for the good review and you can be sure this one will be going on my TBR list.

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    1. Glad to hear the story seems to appeal to you Judy.

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