My new novel HOUSE ON FIRE is about a perfectly blended family—Leigh and Pete and their five combined children, aged ten to twenty. They all get along like a house on—well, you know the expression. Until one rainy night, when a teenage party followed by a road accident leaves Leigh’s daughter dead and Pete’s son charged with vehicular manslaughter. Instantly the fault lines open up and the foundation of their perfectly blended family crumbles.
Novelists have long plowed fertile fields when it comes to complicated family situations. Those fields can be even more fertile in a blended family. To (badly) paraphrase Tolstoy, all blended families are happy and unhappy in their own way.
Here’s a sampling of some of the many novels that have treated this subject.
Read with a Lime Spritzer
Citrus seems appropriate for a Southern California setting. At times funny and heart-wrenching, Patchett’s COMMONWEALTH covers a multigenerational saga that begins with a forbidden kiss. From there a road diverges for two families in very different ways. While Bert Cousins arrives at the fateful christening party with a bottle of gin, might we suggest a lime spritzer?
“Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
The turbulent and tempestuous love story of Cathy and Heathcliff spans two generations—from the time Heathcliff, a strange, coarse young boy, is brought to live on the Earnshaws’ windswept estate, through Cathy’s marriage to Edgar Linton and Heathcliff’s plans for revenge, to Cathy’s death years later and the eventual union of the surviving Earnshaw and Linton heirs. A masterpiece of imaginative fiction, Wuthering Heights (the author’s only novel) remains as poignant and compelling today as it was when first published in 1847.