The Thing About Clare
Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction
An enchanting tale of a sibling group, where one is the favourite and one the black sheep
I'm an Only Child so can only imagine what it must be like to have brothers and sisters to love, fight, argue and reconcile with, but Imogen expertly conveys the complex and dynamic relationships between these three sisters and their baby brother in this charming and perfectly paced novel.
Miriam, the eldest, has to forfeit her dreams of attending Rada in order to help bring up her baby brother after his surprise and untimely arrival. As expected she maintains her role as head of the sibling group throughout the novel. Stern, matriarchal and overly obsessed with structure and order.
Anna is the third child. The favourite. The one that can do no wrong in the eyes of her parents, but when she discovers a letter with her mother's will, which her mother on her deathbed had asked Anna to destroy, she is faced with an impossible choice. Go against her mother's wishes and uncover the truth or protect her sister.
Seb is the baby and treated as such by the rest of his sisters, even after he grows up and has a family of his own and Clare is the second born. The rebel. The one that always stirs the pot, pushes the boundaries and is convinced she doesn't fit in.
The story is set in England and unfolds over a forty year period and I completely connected with many of the events that formed the backdrop to the narration as I also lived through them. Anyone over the age of forty and from the UK will remember the 1977 silver jubilee and would likely have been involved in a street party. Or who can forget the iconic rise of the punk movement in the 1980s?
The story is told from all four siblings' POV, having said that Imogen expertly allows you time to settle into that sibling's voice for a couple of chapters before mixing it up again - so I never felt disconnected from the flow of the tale as it unraveled.
This is the second book of Imogen's I've read and it is as equally charming as her first novel and I look forward with great anticipation to her next release in 2019.