Monday, December 19, 2011
Review: Ordinary Families, by E. Arnot Robertson
Original date of publication: 1933
My edition: 1986 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: It’s on the list of VMCs
How I acquired my copy: Charing Cross Road bookshop, London, September 2011
Ordinary Families is the story of an English family living in the small village of Pin Mill. Lallie is one of four children to a former adventurer, and they spend their days boating and hunting in Suffolk.
This is one of those classic coming of age stories in which one girl struggles to figure out her place in a large family, overshadowed as she is by her beautiful older sister. I liked Robertson’s descriptions of the family, especially Lallie and her father, but I also thought her descriptions of the family’s boating excursions were a bit, er, overboard at times. Robertson is good at character development and exploring the relationships between the various family members. It’s also very frank, for the 1930s, about various aspects of growing up. Because the plot moves along at a very slow pace, it’s very hard to follow at times.