Cover Image: A Family Affair

A Family Affair

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Member Reviews

wow!! this book really truly blew me away! it was so very much fun to read and i am so excited to get to read more from this author in the future! thank you so much for this opportunity, netgalley!!!!
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I didn’t really enjoy this book, too many characters who didn’t really add to the story and the jumping time line was confusing. I couldn’t connect to Frankie or her story.
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Absolutely loved this book! Readers of Julie Houston’s other books will love this one too. As usual, Houston gives us not only an intriguing plot, but creates a wonderful cast of characters you are sure to fall in love with. What I love most about this book is that there are three distinct timelines. Both are woven expertly and I was engaged in all of them. Romance and Women's fiction fans should snap this one up immediately!
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What a treat this latest return to the village of Westenbury turned out to be. There is plenty of variety in the writing, with three timelines to follow and a lovely cast of characters to follow. Frankie and her family are at the heart of the story and you get to see her before and after her love affair with the delectable Daler. The family business is central to the lives of the characters and Frankie's Auntie Pam's story from her youth in the 1970's goes some way to explaining the dynamics there. 

    Full of romance and broken hearts, missed chances and thwarted dreams, this is a delightful read. However, there is more to it than that- a slightly darker edge of manipulation, abandonment and shattered hearts. I enjoyed Frankie's friendship with Daisy which added humour and a down to earth tone. Through their friendship. you feel you get to know Frankie a little more. There are layers to this story. It was such a pleasure to peel them back.

In short: Are second chances possible?
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When Frankie is called back from her travels in Italy to her small home town in Yorkshire, she isn't expecting the news that she's wanted to join the family business.  Having run away after having her heart broken two years earlier, returning could go one of two ways.  But she realises that she's missed her family and friends and is looking forward to taking up her position in the business.

Be back with her best friend Daisy and her Aunty Pam, brings a new confidence to her and she's determined to do well.  But when things start going well a curve ball is thrown at her and she has to face things that could be the end to her new confident self, and new life.  Can she face up to them? Will she be successful in business? And ultimately, will she ever find true happiness?

This story had so many lovely elements to it.  With Frankie coming from a big Sicilian family, it was wonderful seeing the family dynamics, although some are definitely questionable (especially in the early years!).  Her Mum is something else, and in comparison her Aunty Pam is wonderful! A caring, loving and somewhat wild lady who has sacrificed quite a lot over time for her family.  I loved her and just wanted her to be truly happy after everything she'd been through.  Frankie is also a fantastic character - at times I wanted to give her a big hug, at others a kick up the bum and a stern telling off!  There are some other wonderful characters in this, one's your will automatically fall in love with, some will grow on you and others you won't want to like, but will!

Mainly set in the factory in the village and in the little cottage Frankie lives in, the setting felt really cosy.  With bee hives in the countryside, cycle routes and lots of greenery, it kind of welcomes you in.  There is also a lot of food in this, particularly Italian food and if you're a foodie you will love this! Make sure you have some biscuits ready for when it makes your stomach rumble!

The story is told from the two different characters - Frankie and (Aunty) Pam, and flits between the past and the present.  We learn what Frankie has been through and the cause of her heartbreak, Pam's teenage years, growing up and what she went through and sacrificed, and where they both are in the present.  There are a few things that you won't see coming and I loved each and every one of them.

So if you're looking for a heartwarming read that will give you equal doses of family, love, sacrifice and heartbreak, and will also have you backing these two wonderful women, then this is for you.
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The writing was in the style of Joanna Trollope, an author I've always enjoyed.

Set in a Yorkshire village, the family of Italian origin has set up a pickles and preserves and jam industry famous all over, branched out even to America and now needs a new infusion of blood. Frankie after having disappeared to Sicily for years after a disastrous love affair now finds herself back home in a niche in the family business, butting heads with her brother Luca who seems resentful of the welcome given to his sister and with a grandfather who does not like innovation and a father who is willing to go along as everything runs peacefully.

Frankie wants to contribute her bit to the business, not just be a figurehead in the directorate and she gets down to it right away. An American brought in to contribute does not help either and her former lover appearing on the scene makes her want to put her running shoes on. Her aunt whose retirement from the business, was the reason she came in is also very much part of the story.

It is very much a family saga covering three generations, going back and forth because it was the decisions of decades past that is now affecting the grand children of today. Nothing can be changed or rectified, whether mistakes or not but all are determined to go forward. 

Descriptive of Yorkshire and its inhabitants (something I know little of) was part of the charm of this story. Characterization was varied and added so much interest.
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A Family Affair is typical of a Julie Houston novel - it sucked me in and enveloped me straight into the story, and into the lives of Pam and Frankie, aunt and niece, it had me oohing, ahhing, muttering and awwing in equal measures from the very beginning. 

The story centres around both their lives. Pam’s life see-saws back and to over a 50 year period, whilst Frankie's spans just a few - both of them part of the Piccione Pickles and Preserves family. Both meet the man of their dreams only for fate to twist its cruel knife and leave them following a different path in life, the ‘one that got away’ leaving a hole that time has been impossible to fill.

I loved that the story centred around a family of Italian, or should I say Sicilian descent, I virtually travelled with them, the descriptions of the food - ohhhhhh I literally drooled, it really was delicious. Once again Julie Houston has created characters that were relatable and warranted the time I invested, cheerleading them through the story of their lives. Pam and Frankie’s stories told 50 years apart but almost parallel, the similarities and bumps in the road so very similar. I loved that despite everything, underneath it all, the strong women they were shone through. I so wish I had an auntie Pam cheerleading and guiding from the sides.

As ever, Julie relayed their stories, surrounding them with a supporting cast of family, friends and neighbours - everyone seemingly connected to each other in some way - so and so's brother's, sister's, mother's, uncle that married .... You get the picture? I thought I'd never keep up but it all slotted together, I'm glad to say and there wasn't a single one that I thought was un-necessary to the plot. Some I liked more than others, but that's real life isn't it? 

It's a story with more than a little romance, a story steeped in mystery and secrets that were revealed slowly throughout the book. There's more than one love interest, lots of heartbreak and sadness, but for me Pam is the star of the show. Julie’s ability to create multi-faceted characters is second to none - polishing them just a little more with each chapter until they shine and can stand alone - I totally loved this book. The fact that topics that were taboo in the 70’s are at the heart of the back story yet despite their importance to the plot didn’t dullen the lustre of the present is testament to Julie Houston’s skill as a writer. 

if you haven't discovered this for yourself yet you are seriously missing out. Head to Amazon and indulge yourself in this beautiful read - A Family Affair, you won't be disappointed.
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A book which had flashbacks to the past to help explain some aspects of the present. I enjoyed this book, particularly the ‘present’ story, not so much the ‘past’. This is not my favourite Julie Houston book but reading it was a pleasant way to spend an evening. .
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A Family Affair is initially the story of Frankie Piccione who has spent two years away from her home town of Westenbury after having her heart broken. Finally she has returned and has been persuaded to start working for the family firm, Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves. However, it’s just as much the story of her beloved Auntie Pam, who has just stepped down from the board of directors.

I enjoyed the similarities in both Frankie and Pam’s stories. The book takes place over three timelines. In the 1970s, a young Pam is very much in love but something happens one night which means a very different future from what she envisaged. In the more recent past, another event means that Frankie’s life also changes dramatically. In the present, Frankie is working towards a new future, with a hint of new love and new opportunities at work

Opportunities and expectations were something I felt were strong themes in the book. There was pressure put on Pam to conform in the 1970s and it’s fair to say, it made her life rather miserable for some years. Although times were changing for women at that time, there was still a lot of societal pressure to conform. This was equally true of another character close to her who had to hide an aspect of their life and conform, in this case partly because of society but also because of family. Not being true to yourself can cause a lot of misery.

It was also partly family pressures which broke Frankie’s heart, I found this aspect of the story so intriguing. She was so much in love and it seemed that love was reciprocated in full. So what on earth had happened to cause that sudden break-up?

A Family Affair is a very enjoyable book. I loved getting to know all the characters in Westenbury and will definitely be keen to read about them again. I thought that Julie Houston wrote about all the romances so touchingly and they felt very true to life. There was a lot of humour in the book too. There were quite a few unexpected moments, some of which made me gasp and some if which made me smile. Julie Houston has taken all the strands of her characters’ lives and woven them together into a heart-warming and uplifting book about family, friendship and love.
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This story took me a little longer to get into than the previous books about Westenbury, but it's emotional, insightful and wonderfully romantic. When I finished, it was one of my favourite books in the series.

Frankie returns to the family business after two years away. Her motivations for leaving are understandable and easy to empathise with. Pam sees Frankie as her second daughter. Pam's story takes place in the 1970s. The seventies are well-described, especially the differences in attitudes and prejudices in comparison with the present day.

The characters are relatable, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged. This is a family centred story with pertinent social history and two believable and satisfying love stories.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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How I’ve been looking forward to this one!

Two years ago, Frankie Piccione went travelling two years ago but now she’s back. The family business of pickles and jams needs some new input and she joins the board with the remit to sort it out. Her brother Luca and his new hire, Cameron Mancini, are watching her and she knows she needs to impress them. Settling back into life in Westenbury, her friend Daisy and her Aunt Pam make her feel at home – until a blast from the past appears and she yearns to just take off again . . .

I’ve loved every book set around Westenbury and this one is no different. With a small connection to previous characters this joins up to previous stories but it is a tale all of it’s own. Frankie is a fascinating character and I loved that we followed her both in the present whilst finding out about past events which made her look out her passport. With a wider family, a touch of romance, a lot of humour (yes, back to giggling in bed again and trying not to waken my other half), this is a sheer delight from beginning to end. I would love a map of Westenbury – I’m beginning try to imagine where everyone fits in! Oh, how I want to taste Aunt Rosina’s recipes; as someone who is very fond of everything containing lemons my mouth watered every time any dish was served containing them. Talking about dishes, Dev Patel’s name pops up more than once! I feel a gap now that I no longer have this on my list. If I absolutely had to come up with a criticism, it would be the speedy ending but then, as we all know, great books are always too short and this is, without hesitation, a five star read and one I’m so happy to recommend.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy and to Vicky Joss for my spot on this tour; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Loved it!!! This might have been my favorite book by the author, but I pretty much have loved all the books that take place in Westenbury. I enjoyed seeing a few of the usually characters that have been in the previous books, but it was nice that the book mainly focused on Frankie and Pam. Also got to know Daisy a bit better. Deimante always brings the smiles. You never know what she's going to say. Loved how the book alternated between Pam and Frankie, especially the parts about Pam's younger years. Frankie grew on me. I wasn't her biggest fan at first because I couldn't understand how she could just runaway from her life because of a man. Frankie stepped up at her new job at Piccione's Pickles and Preserves, even though most of her family had no faith in her. Luca made it known that he didn't want her to even be there. The book focuses on love, forgiveness, family relationship, friendship and so much more. Every time I read the books about Westenbury, I want to live there and become friends with everyone. Although, I wouldn't want to work at Piccone's on the pickle line.

Definitely recommend the book. Loved the characters, story and writing style. Look forward to reading more books by the author. I simply can't resist going back to Westenbury.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Aria & Aries through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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EXCERPT: Aunty Pam smiled. 'You know, Frankie, when I look back at my twenty-year-old self, I am totally filled with admiration for her. If he and Marco didn't agree with this, I told Angelo I was going back to my parents immediately; Consettia wouldn't see anything of her grandchild - I knew your grandmother wouldn't allow Angelo to get away with that - and I would spill the beans...'

ABOUT 'A FAMILY AFFAIR': Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it's time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione's Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she's going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it...

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely love Julie Houston's writing, but I have to admit that I initially had a few issues with A Family Affair. It seems that every book now has to be written over more than one timeline and from multiple points of view. And in A Village Affair, Julie has taken this path. When I started reading, I wasn't convinced that this was going to work. Even halfway through, I wasn't convinced this was working. But in the end, Julie tied it together beautifully and I exited this book with a sigh of contentment.

I love Julie's characters. They are so real, so down to earth. But for me, this story wasn't about Frankie and her disastrous love life - it's Aunty Pam who stole my heart.

And while I may have initially thought that I knew where this story was heading, I was wrong on every count. Julie bested me. And I am happy about that. I should have known better . . .

Julie writes with humor and empathy. A delightful read.


#AFamilyAffair #NetGalley

I: @juliehoustonauthor @ariafiction

T: @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance

THE AUTHOR: Julie Houston is Yorkshire born and bred. She lives in Huddersfield where her novels are set and her only claims to fame are that she taught at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old school, her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris and her friend is about to marry Tracy Emin’s cousin! Oh, and she was rescued by Frank Bough when, many years ago, she was ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ at the Kensington Hilton in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria & Aries via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Village Affair by Julie Houston for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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This is a lovely heartwarming story about family and connection. I loved the characters of Aunt Pam and Frankie and they way they loved and supported each other. I really enjoyed the multiple timelines - we learn about Pam’s life in the 70s and all the struggles she faced before achieving remarkable things. We also learn about Frankie’s love affair two years ago and her struggles in the present day, how fiercely she falls in love and how hard life has been since her heart was broken. Even when dealing with significant traumas there is a lightness of touch and the whole book is infused with a delightful sense of humour. I loved the idea of this hugely successful Italian-owned business in the background. It was intriguing and learning about the impact Pam made on it back in the day, despite being a very young mother and struggling in a loveless marriage, was brilliant. I loved being able to root for both Pamela’s and Frankie’s successes!

There is so much to love in this well written, engaging and heartwarming book. I think it will really appeal to fans of Cathy Bramley and Heidi Swain, and it is a lovely summer read!
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I absolutely adore Julie Houston books and this has been no different. This is a book that I have devoured in just one sitting and been completely unable to put down.

I love the characters in this book. Frankie is just wonderful. Likeable and relatable in every way. I love her strength and determination.

I have read all of this author’s books and this is my favourite so far. I know that as a reader we are guaranteed the perfect escape from reality.

I adore the cover of this one, it’s absolute perfection and fits beautifully with the author’s other books.

I have absolutely nothing negative I say about this one. This has been an absolute delight to read. A definite five star read and one that should be on the TBR.
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Another enjoyable book by Julie. Set with dual timelines telling the story of Frankie and her Aunty Pam, the story is woven introducing other family members and friends, and their relationships with Frankie and Pam.
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****4.5 stars!****

It’s been too long since I was last in Westenbury. (Boring side note: each book is a complete standalone.)

This book hit me right in the feels. I. Was. Obsessed. It’s one of those stories that consumes you even when you’re not reading it… ‘What’s going to happen next?’, ‘Ohh, are they who I think they are?’, ‘WHAT THE WHAT?!’ I think you catch my drift *snorts* 

They say that to have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all but trying to heal a broken heart is no mean feat. I don’t blame Frankie for wanting to escape, but now she’s back and she has to decide. Decide between living a half-life where she is merely existing or admitting there will always be a part of her missing. Trying to find her new happy while embracing the new challenge of her role within the family business of Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves. It kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? *giggles*

Although A Family Affair centres around the main character of Frankie, her story becomes intertwined with that of her Aunty Pam and the parallels of their lives. You all know I have a (burning) need to know everything so going between past and present had me metaphorically happy dancing. Nosey? Moi?!

AFA delves into all the facets of love, family, and relationships. My poor blood pressure was spiking towards the end as I had the fear (never poo-poo the fear – it’s a thing!) of how it was all going to turn out. 

I only had one teeny grumble that a certain event at the end felt a bit rushed to me, but I still ended the book by giving the biggest happy sigh along with a cheesy grin. 


What can I say?! When life gives you lemons make crema al limone, baby!!
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I simply adored this book!  A family affair is told from a now and then perspective, through the eyes of Frankie and her Aunt Pam.  Julie Houston weaves the threads of the story in such a way that the tension builds towards the half-way mark, where the present day fully takes over.  The thread that joins our two central characters is their mourning for lost love.  
Pam’s story takes us back to the early seventies; a time when misogyny was common-place and sex outside of marriage was a greater issue than in more modern times.  The devastating effect of a decision, made whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol, has a lasting impact on her future.    
Frankie’s story only takes us back a few years, but her devastation is equally heart-breaking.  Again, it’s outside influences and intolerance that dictate her path.  For Frankie, the wound is still raw, and she is reluctant to put down roots on her return to Westenbury.  Thankfully, the source of her sadness, the handsome Dr. Daler, is now living in London.
It’s hard to ignore the symmetry of Pam and Frankie’s lives as they are both denied the chance to be with the men that they love.  Pam, however, has used her pain to build an impressive role within Piccione’s Pickles, despite the environment being completely male dominated.  It’s the gap, caused by Pam’s retirement, that Frankie is asked to help fill.  Also filling the gap is American import, Cameron Mancini.
I thoroughly enjoyed Frankie and Pam’s relationship, it reminded me of my own Aunt and how she is like a Mum, to me.  Frankie is also blessed with her childhood best friend, Daisy.  This friendship provides her with an option for somewhere to live, away from her brother.  However, it’s this accommodation that puts her in the spotlight with Cameron Mancini. It was interesting to learn more of Frankie’s relationship with her other family members, especially her brother.  As long buried truths come to the surface, Frankie is forced to re-examine her perceptions of her family’s dynamic.
As I reached the closing chapters, I was saddened to be saying goodbye to the Piccione family, but heartened that the future, for the women who had captured my imagination, was looking a lot happier.
Julie Houston has created characters who will stay with me for some time.  Her understanding of the complications of family have helped her to create relationships and situations which are not for the faint hearted.  Her last book won awards, I wouldn’t be surprised to see A Family Affair nominated for more accolades.
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Whenever I pick up a new book by Julie Houston, I wonder whether it will meet my high expectations and be another book I’ll love as much as the many I’ve read before – she’s set the bar particularly high, but has never yet failed to delight me.

At first, this is Frankie’s story – she fled Westenbury a few years ago after a very special relationship fell apart, but is now back to take her place on the board of Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves, the rather tired and ailing family business run by her father and grandfather. American go-getter Cameron has already been brought in to try and fill the big shoes of Auntie Pam, recently retired, and it does seem that the only expertise Frankie can bring – she trained to be a nurse, spent time in Italy with her family, and had a spell as an air hostess – is her knowledge that their lemon curd has a definite absence of Sicilian lemons and the honey is distinctly ordinary. Her mother, now married to the local parliamentary candidate, is a bit of a horror – it’s Auntie Pam who stepped in to take her place, giving her all the support, warmth and security she could possibly want while growing up. But Pam does have quite a story of her own – from the time she joined the family business as a fifteen year old in the 1970s, through a series of events that changed the course of her life.

I’m not going to even try to retell the full story, but I really think there’s a particular skill in telling a story over three distinct timelines – Pam’s coming of age story starting in the 70s, Frankie’s love affair and its sad end that sees her running away, and the present day story following her return – and the way it’s done in this wonderful book is just about as perfect as you could possibly hope for. There’s never the wrenching that you can sometimes feel when moving from one story to another, that “oh no” feeling that you’d prefer to stay with the story you’ve become immersed in – all three are equally engaging with twists and turns that involve you totally. I think that’s largely down to the strength of the two main characters, both women finding a place in your heart, and the creation of a superb supporting cast where every individual leaps into life from the pages. But it’s also down to the wonderful storytelling, effortlessly moving from the 1970s world – just perfectly recreated, with so many little touches that you’ll recognise and smile when they feel so familiar (no, I never made it to Wigan Casino either…!), a real slice of social history – to developments in the present day.

This book really does have a bit of everything – plenty of romance, strong friendships, family relationships, drama and betrayal – and the pace never wavers for an instant. And, of course, the other thing that never wavers is the essential lightness with which the book is infused, whatever traumatic events the characters might be going through – the author’s sense of humour, and the way it plays into the story, is one I most definitely share, whether simply raising a smile or leaving me helpless with laughter, and all with that distinct Yorkshireness that I love so much (and, in this book, a touch of Italian too!). And she shifts with absolute ease from humour to poignancy and heartbreak – there are a lot of moments in this book that can’t fail to bring a tear to your eye, particularly through Pam’s story. And there are plenty of more weighty issues too, along with matters of the heart – cultural differences particularly well handled, social conventions and expectations through the 70s, sustainability in the present day.

But I must say a little more about the characters – and it really was an absolute delight to be back in Westenbury, with quite a few characters from previous books making cameo appearances. It felt like a particular treat if you’ve read any of the author’s previous books – I was particularly thrilled to meet Deimante again, with her fractured English and passion for football – but so cleverly done because not recognising the references really wouldn’t spoil anything for a new reader. We even return to Holly Close Farm, where Frankie moves in with her wonderful best friend Daisy in one of the cottages I remember being built and given to her and her sister – and where Cameron, becoming an increasingly rounded and intriguing character as the book goes on, then moves into the one next-door and gets Frankie a little hot under the collar.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read one of the author’s wonderful books from cover to cover in one afternoon in the summer sunshine, but I find her writing totally enchanting – it ended, with a few surprises, in the way I really hoped it would, leaving me with a smile on my face, a bit of an ache in my heart, and the feeling that I’d read and enjoyed something rather special. Highly recommended by me – I loved every moment.
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This book I found a little confusing, it darted back and forth from Frankie Piccione to her Auntie Pam without warning.
I found I just couldn't get into the story because of this and gave up on it.  I'm so sorry but it wasn't for me.
Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this book. x
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