The Family Retreat

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Pub Date 25 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022

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When Rob decides the family needs to get away for the summer Jess is not convinced – won’t all the things they’re escaping be waiting for them on their return? But the kids are thrilled, and before long their idyllic little cottage, the sea air, and the feel of skin sticky from sun-cream, lollies and sand, begins to work its magic. Jess allows herself to sink into the holiday vibes – the family even make holiday friends.

The summer heat intensifies Jess – ever vigilant – unearths a secret, a problem she’s sure she can help solve. But things are not always as they seem. The water may look inviting but even the gentlest looking waves can hide the deadliest undercurrents.  

As autumn approaches, Jess - and the reader - will come to realise this is going to end in a way no-one could have imagined...

When Rob decides the family needs to get away for the summer Jess is not convinced – won’t all the things they’re escaping be waiting for them on their return? But the kids are thrilled, and before...

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780571349555
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 85 members

Featured Reviews

The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas begins with husband and wife Rob and Jess deciding to take a holiday on the Dorset Coast with their 2 children. Jess is a GP "taking a career break" under a cloud and not overly keen on the idea but somewhat reluctantly she agrees to go.

With Rob unexpectedly called away for work reasons Jess finds herself relaxing and making friends with the neighbours,not least perfect couple,Helen and James, who also have 2 children. As time goes on ,however events conspire to make the holiday one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

This is quite a hard book to categorise,it's almost a mini soap opera with so many things going on at the same time with equally dramatic but separate story-lines involving both Jess's friends and family.
There are quite a few difficult subjects covered in the book that in the hands of a lesser author could have made it melodramatic or tawdry and it's one that will make you think.

The only niggle for me was that one twist was so obvious that I found it very hard to believe that Jess,given her profession and previous experiences, didn't click straight I'd guess most readers will. It's also quite slow to get going but once it does it's gripping and involving.

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Jess and her family are on holiday while work is being done on their London home; Helen and her family are on holiday just because. Neither is telling the whole truth. Jess is a GP on ‘sick’ leave, and her husband, Rob, is a screen writer based in London and often away on business. Helen’s family have recently returned from Germany and are buying a new property in London. Her husband, James, is starting a new business and is either in London or travelling on weekdays. Rob is immersed in script problems and quite laissez-faire about domestic matters, while James is highly focussed on his family, constantly doing things to entertain them but also genial and helpful to neighbours and friends. Inevitably, Jess and Helen become close, especially since they both have two young children who constantly want to spend time playing by the sea. In many ways they are having an idyllic time but underneath Jess, outwardly a happy, scatty mum, is ridden with worry and guilt over her failures as a GP. Helen on the other hand, is outwardly placid, highly organised although reticent about her past. The only cloud on her horizon comes from the frequent, at least daily, phone calls from her troubled sister. No one sees the rapidly approaching catastrophe.
This book is classed as general fiction which, on the face of it, conforms to the family drama tropes. However, the underside is of the story is a mystery, things are not as they seem, but small clues are scattered through the tale enabling the reader to puzzle out the true nature of the drama. The writing is of high quality and the whole thing proceeds at a surprisingly fast pace, while feeling, in the early stages, like a meander on a warm afternoon. The ending is well constructed and the final tidying up expeditious and satisfying. I would give it 4.5 so rounded to 5.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.

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The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas
To be frank, as a male reader and based only on its description, this is not a book I would have chosen to read. I did so because I was sent a copy to review and ended up glad that I did read it. The story, told from the point of view of a working mother with 2 young children, starts off describing life during a period away from home in London at a cottage in a village by the sea in Dorset - idyllic. It unfolds to reveal what for me is another world - a world of very different lives. The author covers several important and disturbing topics and clearly she is very knowledgeable about these areas.

I have to say I was gripped by the story and invested in the characters. The story highlighted some very important topics. One could not call it an enjoyable read but I felt pleased and satisfied that I had read it. This book will make you sit up and think and it poses some difficult questions.

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I liked this book
It is well written
A bit of a slow burner
Quite a few topics are highlighted
Worth a read

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what a fantastic read, thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. I could not put it down.

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A slow burn novel, in a remote location, family secrets and a fantastic twist. I loved this book! It did take me a bit to get into it but once I did, I was completely hooked.

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Jess is a GP who is off work under a shadow because of an error she made. Her husband Rob, a screenwriter, is keen for her to go back but she is very reluctant. Eventually she agrees to go to Dorset for a month's break. There she meets Helen and James who together with Ollie and Lexie appear to be the perfect family. Over the course of the holiday several incidents occur which make her re-evaluate both her past and her present self.

I couldn't put this book down. I thought Jess was very well portrayed and the psychological issues she and others in the book had were dealt with very sensitively. But this isn't just a book about the characters. Several very important issues are covered not least the issue of how women are expected to 'be careful' as if being aware of the bad things men can do is going to stop them doing it. How many times does it have to be said? It is not a woman's fault if she is beaten, abused, raped. It is the fault of the perpetrator. There are several highly dramatic incidents in the book which are very well described (I won't say what they are because of spoilers) and which had me riveted. I'm really surprised by some of the less positive reviews as I found this to be a engrossing read with very well developed characters and very well written. Thanks to NetGalley and Faber for the ARC.

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A really engrossing read which was really well written. The author writes with a true understanding of the topics in this novel which made the novel richer for it. The book has a great flow and the plot was riveting.

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