In their particulars, the Lanchesters were not Every Family. The father was an international banker, the mother a former nun. Yet in the dynamic of family life, their patterns are instantly recognizable. The heart of that dynamic is a built-in tug-of-war: to a young child, a sense of loving protection becomes, as he matures, a set of barriers to be overcome. In his richly told story, John Lanchester brings this dynamic to life, and in the process makes us think about our own family story and about the legacy-emotional, social, intellectual-our parents pass on to us, generation to generation, the bitter with the best.
It was only when his mother died that Lanchester realized how little he really knew his parents. That, too, is in the nature of families: parents keep secrets from their children, and children are happy to acquiesce, not wanting to disturb their universe. But with Julie Lanchester's death-and the cache of papers and letters she left behind-Lanchester set out to reconstruct just who his parents had been. In doing so, he gained extraordinary insight into his own nature, and a deeper understanding of theirs. And because he has the wisdom to see the universal aspects of his story, Family Romance resonates for anyone who has ever felt the push-pull of family love.
Part detective work, part remarkable evocation of character, Family Romance is, above all, compelling storytelling.