Blog Tour Book Club: The Family Next Door

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Author: Sally Hepworth
ISBN: 9781760552176
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Sally Hepworth is an author I have grown to love. We have featured all her novels here at Beauty and Lace, book clubbing more than not. I always get excited knowing that there’s a new novel coming because Hepworth tackles the tricky topics with insight and sensitivity. The Family Next Door is another story tackling heavy subject matter but I think there was a larger element of mystery here, I was certainly left guessing.

The Family Next Door is set in a suburban Melbourne street, a family oriented area that is quiet and peaceful. The story is told by a cast of female characters living on the street, a street where everyone knows each other but no-one is really a friend. They wave and check in politely, look out for gardens when people are away but there are no real friendships; no support network.

Isabelle moves into the street and sets tongues wagging because a single woman is a rare occurrence in their street, and though she’s friendly she seems to know a lot more than she should.

Essie, Fran and Ange all seem to have enviable lives. They have great husbands, all with very different skill sets and winning husbandly traits. They have children and are trying to get by the best way they can. It isn’t until we get to know their behind-closed-doors lives that we realise how deceiving looks can really be.

The story is told in alternating (not evenly) chapters focused on Essie, Fran, Ange, Isabelle and Essie’s mum Barbara. This is when we start to learn about all the things going on in these women’s lives, that their neighbours are unaware of.

Isabelle has a reason for moving to Pleasant Court and we discover early that she’s looking for someone; as the story unfolded I came up with theory after theory about who she was looking for and why, and I was wrong every time.

The secrets lurking in the Pleasant Court houses left me wondering how this would all come together and I really had no idea. Nothing that I imagined was even close and that was a great thing. Hepworth wove an intriguing and heartbreaking story from the lives on Pleasant Court and by the close of the story she had outed the secrets and the recovery phase was well underway.

The Family Next Door asks us how well we really know our neighbours, and if we could change things by reaching out and really checking in. We all have things going on in our lives but if we opened ourselves to helping those close to us would we all reap the benefits.

Essie, Fran and Ange live in close proximity and see each other regularly but they don’t really catch up and it seems, as we get to know them, that they don’t really have anyone they can properly catch up and offload to which leaves them feeling pretty isolated with their secrets and struggling with how to work through them. This sense of isolation can exacerbate small issues and make them much larger, I know this from personal experience, so imagine how much more difficult that makes dealing with large issues.

Sally Hepworth tackles all the big ones in marriage in The Family Next Door from financial issues to trust, fidelity, depression, post-natal depression, guilt, postpartum psychosis and commitment phobia. Two of these marriages look really amazing from the outside and even Essie and Ben have an enviable relationship, though the others know about that scary time that Essie left her baby in the park and returned home.

I love the intricate way that Hepworth has woven all of the strands of this story together, bringing us to a heart-warming conclusion after some pretty serious heartbreak. The loose ends are tied up and everyone gets a resolution to their issues, even if it’s not always the way we wanted it to turn out.

The characters are real and relatable, I’m sure most of us will empathise with at least one of them even if they didn’t always behave in a way we would expect. A gripping spotlight on the issues that many of us face, and often can’t bring ourselves to talk about. A book I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Thank you Sally Hepworth and Pan Macmillan for an emotionally engaging, sensitive and insightful look at love, life and neighbourhoods.

The Family Next Door is book #9 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

You can follow Sally Hepworth on Facebook, her Website and Twitter.

The Family Next Door is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Family Next Door so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

17 thoughts on “Blog Tour Book Club: The Family Next Door

  1. I loved every page of this book and read it fast, I struggled to put it down.
    This is a story about the families on Pleasant Court who seem quite together…but who knows what goes on behind closed doors.
    I enjoyed every character in this book, normally there’s someone who I don’t like in a book but this one shows just how complex people are and that there is sometimes a grey area. Each family was interesting and I couldn’t wait to get to the juicy stuff, you can feel it coming from the beginning.
    This book would appeal to a wide audience, from mother’s with young children to grandparents and anyone in between really.
    5/5 Stars from me. Thanks so much for this book club book, this one will stay with me for a long time.

  2. What an amazing story! It twists and turns and just when you think you’ve pinned it down, it twists again.
    Following the stories of various suburban women and their families, the author weaves an intriguing tale that gripped me from the first page. I found the characters, and their situations, to be authentic and very relatable. The author demonstrated that there is good and bad in everyone and often the lives that seem to be the most perfect are anything but. There were several late nights as I found it difficult to put the book down.
    This is the first book of Sally Hepworth’s that I have read but I definitely want to read more of her work. A huge thank you must go to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Pan McMillan for choosing me to read and honestly review this book.

  3. I loved this book we got to the bottom of their troubles it all made sense in the end.
    They were people hurting from decisions that they had no control of in the begin of their life.
    A good read.

  4. An intriguing read right from the start. Each chapter left you wondering who was going to lose control of their seemingly comfortable life. Not only does Isabelle moving to Pleasant Court make you wonder who she is and where this is going to lead and with which neighbour but they all have that one “elephant “ in the room.
    A series of events and the story evolves.

  5. I could not put this book down!

    Absolutely enjoyed reading Thefamily next door. I couldn’t put it down from the moment I read the first chapter through to the last page.

    It had me following along to everyone’s story lines and what is happening behind your neighbours closed doors.

    Definitely recommend this book to everyone who is looking for something to read.

  6. I loved this book. I would describe it as a more realistic, Australian version of “Desperate Housewives”
    I felt like any of the women could live next door to me
    This book tells of the everyday comings and goings of the women in the street and their families.
    It is written in an easy to read, comfortable style. As I read this book, I knew something was coming, and was sure I knew how it would pan out
    I was wrong
    I really enjoyed reading this book and will certainly look out for other works by Sally Hepworth
    A must read if you want a book that discusses the big issues in a thought provoking but enjoyable way

  7. The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth is a story of drama and mystery in Pleasant Court in suburban Melbourne. This story kept me thinking what really the mystery is, and every time I thought I knew the mystery, I was proven wrong and had to rethink.

    The story follows the ups and downs of mothers in Pleasant Court, Essie, Fran and Ange, who are all married, with children and have hidden stories from their friends and families, but then again who doesn’t.

    Then there’s Isabella who doesn’t fit into the makeup of the other families in Pleasant Court, she is single, and has no children. She rents where the other families own their homes. So, who or what is she looking for in Pleasant Court?

    The characters are real and easily relatable to many of our own life experiences, and don’t necessarily behave in ways that we would think would be expected of families. The story goes into areas of our lives that we would not always want to discuss and talk about to the Family Next Door or any of our neighbours.

    A great read and I look forward to reading more books by Sally Hepworth.

  8. What an interesting read. The twists in the story kept you reading & trying to guess the plot.

    Outside the house they all seemed like their lives were perfect but inside the walls of their home things were unravelling & everything was not as it seemed.

    Looking forward to reading more by Sally Hepworth

  9. Sally Hepworth has really captured my interest with this book. Do you really know your neighbors? A book full of twists and turns, What starts out as a story of a young woman having a baby and facing post natal depression and how her loving family helps her through this stage in life…. covering the normal life in a street full of friends and family. Some of the other characters play a part in the storyline of unfaithful activities in their own marriages gives a little more depth to the story making you wonder about the title – The Family Next Door.

    The story is written in a way that has you wondering about the new neighbor and how they will fit into the story. There are short breaks from the story to a far away time of a young woman facing the loss of a baby and again you wonder which character this is. The story unfolds in such a way that will leave you breathless about the pain and what people are actually capable of in the face of tragedy.

    Well rounded story that I felt captured the fear and pain of each characters story and how they ended up where they are today. I liked the twist of who this mystery woman was and I feel the ending captured and finished each of the characters story well.

    Thank you for a wonderful read.

  10. Congratulations Sally Hepworth on what I believe to be a successful novel.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and loved the story line.
    You just never really know your neighbours, just when you think you do something like Pleasant Court arises. I loved the many different personalities and characters. I did not figure out the ending at all, usually good at these things.

    Wow ! The things people do for love……

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for yet another successful read.

  11. The Family Next door was exactly that! A story about everyday Australian people going about their business but unbeknown to the ones nearby, they all had secrets and some surprising ones at that!

    I could totally relate to the majority of characters and there are many, which is unusual in a book and can become quite confusing but I didn’t find this one that way at all. Maybe because they were all compartmentalised into their families and I could easily follow what everyone was doing. It took me a while to see the BIG secret (without a spoiler alert!) and I couldn’t put the book down.

    The family next door brings up an interesting point that while we may live with other people and have other people live close by, a lot of us at some point can be really quite lonely and don’t know how to interact with other people in situations. Or feel that they don’t have that someone close that they can talk to.

    I think the Family Next door would be an interesting book for psychology students ( my daughter being one of them who analysis’s everything!) even tho it is written in a light hearted way. Really good book that many readers can relate to,

    Makes you wonder about those around you and what they could possibly be hiding!

    Thankyou for letting me read The Family Next door! Congratulation’s Sally Hepworth on a very interesting read!

  12. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin publishing for another fun read. 3 Stars. The style is lively and female, with lots of characterisation around the interaction between female family members, mother and daughter etc and what it is like to be woman in the modern world. I was drawn in quickly, as the characters unravel, as Margaret becomes a focus, and the money! The tussle over the will (no spoilers) and who knew what. I think we all can see a bit of ourselves or someone we know, in the thoughts shared. Bad stuff happens, good stuff happens and ultimately families lie and cheat repeatedly. When you throw the money in that makes assumptions about inheritance double the trouble. I did enjoy the read, and will recommend the author.

    1. Hi Tara,

      I’m a little confused… are you talking about The Family Next Door or Birthright?

  13. Thanks Michelle, Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMilllan publishers, the Family Next door was not what I expected and just when I thought it would be there was another twist. The strange relationships and the strange behaviours just seem to continue. Again this was a lot to do with the relationship between a woman and child or lack of girl child, and I did not particular enjoy these parts, but would recommend the book.

  14. This novel was not a book that I applied for but for some reason the publishers sent me a copy. I have been busy reading my late April books and just finished the copy of this book.

    This storyline is absolutely amazing and the suburb it centers around could easily fit where I used to live once upon a time. The name Pleasant Court certainly has some intriguing characters and will have you turning those pages so fast to know what happens.

    I loved this storyline. It was easy to read and kept me interested from the first page. So much so, that it gripped by heart and andrenalin kicked in.

    The novel follows the lives of mothers Essie, Ange, Fran and Barbara and each character has their own little secrets happening. No one knows about them in the neighbourhood but these ladies are all very good friends and would help you in an instant if needed.

    The character of Barbara is Essie’s mum who is a doting mum to Essie and a wonderful gran to her granddaughters. She would do anything for them and certainly looks and cares after Essie a lot as things happen with Essie after the birth of her 1st child.

    Another character that moves to Pleasant Court is Isabelle who is childess but very interested in the lives of all the ladies with children in the street. I found myself trying to guess what Isabelle’s interests were. She is a mysterious character.

    This book is such a page turner and I could not put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns that I found along the way. Fantastic book to read. It’s an enjoyable book as there are no characters that are evil or ones that you can’t stand reading about. Every character and even the husbands you like.

    Thanks Pan Macmillan Australia for accidently sending me this book because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise and now I am glad that I did. Definitely women’s fiction at its best as said by Liane Moriarty.

  15. This book has been one of my absolute favourites from this year. Sally Hepworth has created a neighbourhood drama predominantly centred around three different mothers and a stranger who is new to town. There’s Ange the picture-perfect working Mum whose relationship has cracks beneath the surface, Essie is a mother of two who second-guesses herself after a life-changing incident and Fran is a workout-a-holic who is left troubled by the on-going ramifications of an indiscretion. These three neighbours are initially unsure about what to make of single girl, Isabelle, a new addition to this family-friendly street.

    This book reminds me a bit of Meredith Jaffe’s “The Fence” insofar as it’s another engaging, Australian domestic drama. Hepworth’s story also hooks you in with her beautifully-realised characters, immaculate pacing and just the right amount of tension to keep things simmering away. It is all so compelling!

  16. The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth shows just how well none of us know our neighbours and that some of the safest suburbs hold the deepest secrets. As we meet the people that live in Pleasant Court we also learn that what goes on behind closed doors is not what is always shown to the outside world.
    Essie, mother of two, made a dreadful mistake and to this day it haunts her. Ange, who to the outside world appears to have everything under control – job, family but what about her husband. Fran, who is practical and intelligent but is constantly running – just what is she running from? Isabelle, the new and latest person to move to Pleasant Court. Isabelle is single and childless when everyone else in the street is married with children, she is renting whereas everyone else owns their property and her job is mysteriously vague but the thing that concerns the residents of Pleasant Court is that their new neighbour is extremely curious about her new neighbours.
    Excellent book that was hard to put down as the mystery deepens with each page turned. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for allowing me to read this book.

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