Hello from the Gillespies…
About the Book:
For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth…
From the bestselling author of The Trip of a Lifetime comes a funny and heartfelt novel about miscommunication and mayhem in a family like no other.
Monica McInerney’s novels are always such a treasure for me. Hello from the Gillespies is not Monica’s latest release, but we selected it for our November bookclub as a Christmas read. It’s not a Christmas story exactly, but it does open at the beginning of December with Angela Gillespie struggling to write her annual Christmas letter. Christmas themes was enough for us, and I am certainly glad we went with this title. It was fabulous. But Monica always is! Right from the very first page, I was glued to this novel, and it didn’t take me very long to read the 500+ pages.
On the spur of the moment, Angela decides to just write the truth about her family, warts and all, in a kind of mind cleansing, ‘get it all out and I’ll feel better after’ approach. She never intended on the letter actually being sent to the 100 people on her email list, but after a series of distractions and another person deciding they would be extra helpful by sending out what had been left unsent, the letter goes out, in all its truth telling glory. It’s mortifyingly honest and Angela is understandably horrified when she realises it’s all ‘out there’. The fallout from sending such a brutally honest letter is quite interesting, the reactions of Angela’s children, her husband, her extended family and her neighbours; they all differ in their responses and it’s rather thought provoking, and of course, highly entertaining. The letter itself was just gold, although I can understand her children’s horror.
‘You can either laugh about it or kill yourself about it, and you’re my best friend and I don’t want you dead. So we’re going to laugh about it and we’ll get you through this together.’
But there is far more to this novel than the letter, although it does act as a catalyst for all that is to come after. Along with the expected repercussions, there are also a whole lot of benefits from Angela’s honest outpouring. Each of the characters begin to evaluate themselves within the context of where they’re at within their own lives as opposed to their expectations on where they should be. Each are also forced, by circumstances beyond the letter, to consider their role within their family.
‘Was that just what life was like when you were a mother? You were so busy with your children you didn’t have time for your children?’
I really loved this novel with its lively Gillespie family. The dynamic between the siblings was spot on for a large family and despite three of the sisters being adults, they didn’t let that get in the way of being siblings once they, and their little brother Ig (who was a real treasure by the way), all got together. There’s so much to relate to within the pages of this novel: as an individual, as a parent, as a spouse, as a sibling, as an adult child, and as a friend. It has all the feels and you’ll be chuckling away while also dabbing at your eyes. Sometimes the truth really will set you free, even if it does burn in the beginning. I highly recommend you make room in your reading schedule for Hello from the Gillespies this Christmas season.
About the Author:
One of the stars of Australian fiction, Monica McInerney is the author of the internationally bestselling novels A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, Those Faraday Girls, At Home with the Templetons, Lola’s Secret, The House of Memories and a short story collection, All Together Now.
Those Faraday Girls was the winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year prize at the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards. In 2006 Monica was the ambassador for the Australian Government initiative Books Alive, with her novella Odd One Out.
Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley of South Australia and has been living between Australia and Ireland for twenty years. She and her Irish husband currently live in Dublin.
Hello from the Gillespies
Published by Penguin
New Edition Released 2nd July 2018 (originally released 2014)