Review – Each And Every One by Rachael English

By | September 20, 2014

Your family are always there for you…aren’t they?

For Tara, Vee, Niall and Damian, the children of the Shine family, their parents have seen them through thick and thin. In fact, Gus and Joan’s lifetime of hard work has given their children the luxuries they never had when they were growing up – a comfortable home in a leafy Dublin neighbourhood, gap years that never seem to end and an open chequebook for life’s little emergencies. Unfortunately, although the children have grown up, they have got a little too comfortable with the well-feathered nest: now it’s time to learn a few home truths.

When a twist of fate means the bank of Mum and Dad can no longer bail out the younger generation, suddenly the whole family must find out who they really are – but sometimes the truth isn’t easy to face. Uncovering the secrets they all hide will show them a different side to the city they call home and mean finding allies in the most unlikely places.

Warm, wise and witty, Each and Every One is a novel about the lessons we learn in life – and the ones we never do.

I thoroughly enjoyed Going Back, the first novel by Rachael English – you’ll find my review here. So I was absolutely delighted when Rachael arranged for me to receive a review copy of her second.  Each And Every One was published by Orion Books on 11 September, and I really think I liked it even better than her first.

There’s a wonderful cast of characters here.  The Shine family first – Gus and Joan, living in the large house of their dreams in a Dublin suburb, comfortable enough now to pay a woman for the cleaning and a man for the gardening. And there’s enough over to fund the comfortable lives of their children.  Niall is the eternal hippy, travelling the world, never settling down – and all funded by his parents.  Damian has three children at private school, the very definition of a champagne socialist, and is a headline-grabbing local councillor – all funded by Mum and Dad. Vee just has no idea how to manage money: she is married to a barrister on the lower rungs of his career ladder and living way beyond her means.  Tara is a jobbing journalist who loves her work, living in an annex of her parents’ house with an unsuitable boyfriend: she’s also the only child who bothers to remember her mother’s birthday.  When the parental financial support they rely on suddenly disappears, life changes very dramatically for them all.

Meanwhile, Tara becomes friendly with a family from a very different background, who live in a squalid tenement block riddled with damp and where excrement runs from the taps, but where their love for each other shines brightly. Surrounded by drug dealers and violence, grandmother Carmel struggles to provide a good life for her drug addict daughter’s two young children.  Eight year old Ben is a wonderful little character, guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.

This was a wonderful story, so well told.  At times it’s very funny, at other times it’s heartbreakingly sad – you might have little sympathy for the grown-up Shine children at first, but it’s quite wonderful getting to know them better.  The author has a particular gift for dialogue – in this book it really sparkles – and a real eye for the way people behave when backed into a corner. I absolutely loved it – if this doesn’t attract a large audience for Rachael English’s writing I’ll be quite amazed.  I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does next.

My thanks to Orion Books and the author for my personal reading copy.  

Rachael English is a presenter on Ireland’s most popular radio programme, Morning Ireland.  She lives in Dublin, but was born in England and grew up in County Clare on Ireland’s west coast. Her first novel, Going Back, was shortlisted for the most-promising newcomer award at the 2013 Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards. Rachael has a Facebook page, and can also be followed on Twitter. 

(For another review of this excellent novel, please do have a look at Anne’s review on Random Things Through My Letterbox) 

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