The Family Retreat

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Pub Date May 11 2023 | Archive Date Apr 11 2023

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 'What separates Thomas's writing from your average domestic drama is its compelling persuasiveness.' Stylist

What readers are saying:
'An absolutely perfect summer read. I honestly couldn't put it down.'
‘A book that twists and turns and holds you gripped until the final page.’
‘Just finished reading this whilst on holiday and absolutely did not want to put it down. Read it on the beach, in the bar, en route to the airport, even in the queues at check-in & passport control!’

After a stressful year at work, GP Jess decides the family needs a seaside holiday.
This idyllic Dorset cottage might just be the perfect escape. But when the neighbour hints at a dire predicament, Jess puts the idea of sun-kissed, sandy bliss on hold. Like a door nudged ajar, the lure of solving someone’s problems invites her in.
Fuelled by a heady rush of altruism, she decides to act – a choice that will have unforgettable, potentially devastating consequences.
 'What separates Thomas's writing from your average domestic drama is its compelling persuasiveness.' Stylist

What readers are saying:
'An absolutely perfect summer read. I honestly couldn't put it...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780571349555
PRICE £8.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 122 members

Featured Reviews

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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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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Brilliant book. This is such a great read. It is the perfect blend between literary fiction and psychological thriller. The story is told at the beginning over two timelines and you are aware that both are building up to a significant event happening, it is just a matter of what and how these events will come together. The story deals with some quite difficult issues but all are dealt with really sensitively and intuitively. Definitely a must read.

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The Family Retreat is a slow-burning thriller about family secrets with an outstanding twist to tie things together. The writing is brilliant and the characters are well-crafted. Highly recommended!

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Excellent psychological thriller that keeps you guessing throughout.

The book feels real and the characters are so relatable. It’s an intense read in places because it’s so well written.

Read if you like domestic thrillers.

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GP Jess, her husband Rob and two children, take a holiday in a small cottage. Jess has taken a break due to patient problems, and Rob has a book about to be made into a film. As Jess gets to know the neighbours, secrets and past horrors are revealed. It all builds to a terrible event, where everyone must re think their relationships.
Fabulous book, I was totally hooked! Dark subject material which makes you think deeply.

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I loved Bev Thomas’ book, The Family Retreat. The writing and characterisation was superb and the storyline covered many current and complex issues. This is a new author for me and I’ll be looking out for more from her. I thoroughly recommend it.

My thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this one.

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I was intrigued by the reasoning behind Jess's enforced career break and this is teased out over several chapters as we get to know the characters in her family.
Forced to a "family break" by the sea and soon abandoned by her husband for work reasons Jess eventually relaxes into life on the coast and befriending the slightly odd, standoff-ish neighbours Helen and James.
Becoming far too involved in the complexities of the neighbours relationship and family Jess finds herself in an impossible situation that will have you turning pages late into the night seeking resolution.

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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...

This is a gripping read from the start.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. This is my own honest voluntary review

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Bev writes such compelling and often heartbreaking novels and The Family Retreat is no exception.

Jess has a high demanding job not just as a partner in a GP practice but also volunteering for the safeguarding team.
Her husband Rob is a screenwriter and has just landed his first major movie well as having two small children Sam and Ruby.

After a complaint by a patient Jess was asked to take some time off away from work but as things escalated she needed more than just two weeks leave.
Rob manages to find a beautiful but tiny cottage Dorset for a month even though Jess is reluctant at first but as soon as she arrives it felt like home. The cottage is set in a small hamlet just outside the local village.

In the cottage next door Helen her husband James and there two children Ollie and Lexie have also come to spend the summer in Helen's mum cottage whilst she is away. Even though James can only visit at weekends due to setting up is own business.

There is also the local farmer Pete and his wife Joyce and their eighteen year old son Loe who has learning difficulties. In the adjoining cottage is Penny and her father Phillip.

I don't want to go into too much about what happens as it will spoil the plot for other readers but this book deals with some very difficult subjects including domestic violence and mental health problems it is a powerful and impactful book to read.

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Starts off with a family of 4 renting a holiday cottage on the coast and the people and kids met there.
As you read more of the book a quiet sense of unease envelopes you until the breath taking ending
How many layers does each family have,how many secrets and tragedys are kept from public view?
Full of twists snaking back and forth until each family is laid bare.
An intense read. I raced through this book
I loved it.

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This is a brilliant insight into the demands and stresses of a GP woven into a chilling drama unfolding in an idyllic Dorset location. There are several different family dynamics at play with very strong and believable characterisations clearly illustrating the cliche " you never know what goes on behind close doors." An excellent edge of the seat read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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