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Lessons For A Sunday Father by Claire Calman - Book Review


Lessons For A Sunday Father
Claire Calman
Black Swan

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

It's never too late to grow up. This is the story of Scott, who finds his belongings outside in a bin bag one day and realises he may have made a big mistake. Gail, who wishes her husband was under guarantee so she could send him back and get a refund. Nat, who discovers that growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be. Rosie, who just wants her Dad back - or if not, then at least some new glitter nail polish.

Four lives, one story. Love, loss and learning to be a grown-up.

We Say

I read Lessons For A Sunday Father with very high hopes, for two reasons. First, Claire Calman's previous (and debut) novel, Love Is A Four Letter Word, was nothing short of stunning. Second, with this book, the author has adopted the highly effective 'he said, she said' approach used by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees in the brilliant book Come Together and its reasonable sequel, Come Again. This was always going to be an interesting piece of work.

Lessons For A Sunday Father is told from the viewpoint of four members of the same family - Scott and Gail and their two children, Nat and Rosie. Each character tells their side of the story whilst the family falls apart as a result of Scott having a very brief affair.

A big reason for the success of Love Is A Four Letter Word was due to its strong emotional pull. With the subject matter of this novel, there is plenty of scope for Claire Calman to use those same skills to good effect. It almost works. Calman effectively tells the story of nine-year old Rosie, who turns out to be a really sweet character. The author also does an effective job in telling things from Scott's side and he effectively becomes the lead character. Indeed, the father and daughter relationship between Scott and Rosie is a very central theme of the novel and the basis for the book's title. Watching Scott discover that he has a lovely child who he'd previously pretty much taken for granted is a fascinating experience. However, it has to be said that Gail and Nat are much less interesting characters. Gail is too weak and Nat is not much more than a moody, annoying pain in the butt.

The storyline itself is a strong point. Claire Calman leads us on a ride where it's never really clear whether Scott and Gail will make it back together or not and she successfully achieves the desired result of making the reader care about the outcome.

It hasn't got the emotional magnetism of Love Is A Four Letter Word but Lessons For A Sunday Father is still a very worthy second novel for Claire Calman. Let's see more.

Review by: Rob Cook

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