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This was the first Martina Cole book that I read, and it was only by chance that I finished my other book I took on holiday with me a bit earlier than expected. Someone had kindly left a copy of The Family in the hotel for someone else to read so I picked it up and starting reading it on the plane on the way back. I could not put it down. I had to keep reading to get to the end to see what happened. What a gripping and fantastic book. However, it is rather violent, and I would not recommend the book to the sensitive or the faint hearted. Reviews that I have read have stated that you will be hooked from the first page of this book. I totally agree with this statement. This is certainly not the last book of Martina Cole's I will read. If her others are as good as this, I am really looking forward to reading.
I was recommended this book as it had all the makings of a good book in the style of what I like, I was very disapointed, its a book writen by a woman for woman.
The story is about a family as the title suggests, so far so good, it has got a fair bit of violence also good, well if you like that kind of thing which I do, The story is mainly about a woman who lives on a council estate, her parents are the local shop owners who are dreaming of a better life, getting out of the estate, wanting the best for there daughter, but as in life they are stuck, there daughter falls in love with the local gangster/hardman, the more her parents try to stop her the more determined she is to be with him, ye sounds familiar, In the end they get married and live happily ever after, well not this time, over the years they have kids who grow up and want to follow in there fathers footsteps, and at this point she relises what she has married into, ye took her almost 20 years to figure out her husband was the main criminal in the area, everyone was scared of him even his mum and dad.
The story is good and I did enjoy most of it, the biggest problem was the very long drawn out details about the womans feelings I estimate about half the book is filled with how this woman felt at almost every opportunity, if it was cut down greatly this book might of got 5 star rating but no way, the other downfall is there is nothing new in this book the story has been told before many times, the writer has added a bit more violence I suppose but not for me.
This book is brilliant, like the blurb says you will literally be hooked from the first page to the last. If you liked Martinas other book 'The Take' you will also like this one. It follows the same theme of gangster familys. the main characters are Phillip Murphy a young man with a huge temper and Christine Murphy his wife, who originally from a more 'upmarket' family falls in love with Philip when she is just a teenager and he is in his early 20's.
The book is layed out in such a way that it covers 4 parts of Phillips life which includes, there early love, early marriage years, birth of sons to name a few of the main events without giving away the plot. The book isnt laid out in the conventional as in long chapters, but each chapter will cover a certain charatcer/characters such as christine and her mum and dad but the chapter will change as the main characters concerned change.
I would have to admit it is quite closely related to 'The take' in way of plot but i was more hooked on this book than of 'The Take' it can be quite strongly worded at times in the way of bad language. In my opinion this would make a ruddy good film or series.
The one bad pont of this book is that the book is split in four sections as I said previously and there is a big gap in years of the story that you dont get which can you leave a bit perplexed for the first few pages of each section.
I am a fan of Martina Cole books but they are not for the faint hearted.This book centres around the Murphy Clan who are irish cathloics. Phillip Murphy loves his family dearly and makes sure they are well looked after. Over the years he starts to become a serious face and does not appreciate anyone saying no to his deals, as we find out to someone who didnt want to sell phillip his business. Phillip is a complicated character, on one hand he looks after his family and staff very well. On the other he can be nothing but a mindless criminal thug. Phillip is dearly in love with his wife, however due to his wife finding out about his violent nature, it drives her on edge to the point of alcholism and mental health issues. As phillip and christines two sons start to grow up and join the family business, more problems emerge which makes the book very gritty but theres a brilliant whodunit!!!
I would say if you like ganster crime novels, this is a good book to read however if you like nice romantic novels with a bit of scandal thrown in, i would totally advise against this book.
I have read nearly all of Martine Coles' books and this one is definitely my favourite so far. The story had me gripped from the beginning. I couldn't put it down and found myself sneaking up to bed earlier and earlier every night so I could read it (sad!!). This is the first book where I have actually felt sorry for the bad guy, Phillip Murphy. His character is strangely endearing, he adores his mother and is totally besotted (in a sinister sort of way) with his wife Christine who is suffocated by his obsessive controlling behaviour. The whole family is brilliantly portrayed and the storyline is full of surprises with plenty of nasty bits thrown in of course, it wouldn't be a Martine Cole novel without the gory bits. There is a sinister edge to this story which keeps you guessing all the way through as to what is going to happen. I was nervous reading the last chapter, nice twist at the end.
Martine Cole is a brilliant writer and I'm only sorry that I am now half way through the last of all her books. I don't know what I am going to read in future, she is a hard act to follow.
I've always had a bit of thing for Martina Cole books, now I don't really know why because they are never the easiest of reading materials - but my Mum read one, and we tend to swap books a lot, so I took the chance a few years ago to try one of her books. I haven't looked back since, so when I saw this on offer in Asda in paperback on offer two books for £8 I grabbed this one and another book I'd been after for a while but haven't read yet. Needless to say, my parents have just gone off on holiday and well Mum's taken it with her... Strange thing to be reading on a nice relaxing break to Rhodes but never mind!
~*~ Martina Cole ~*~
Martina Cole, is a 52 year old British author from Aveley in Essex - Cole has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London. This author by 2009 had released seventeen novels, all covering the dark and seedy world of the London Crime Scene. Martina has also had many of her novels turned into television programmes; 'The Take,' was turned into a television programme in 2009, and can be bought now on DVD. Since then Martina has formed her own television production company - to pursue her interests, which could lead to more explorative documentaries into the underworld she so famously writes about. In 2010 Martina's novel 'Two Women,' was turned into a play, and put on the stage at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, and at the beginning of this year, her 1997 novel 'The Runaway,' was again turned into a television show on Sky and that is now available on DVD.
~*~ Plot ~*~
'Phillip Murphy is a family man. He worships his mum; he takes care of his siblings who help run his business empire in Southend; he dotes on his two young sons who will one day take over the reins. And then there's his wife and saviour Christine, who he loves with a vengeance. To Phillip Murphy family is everything. Christine has always understood this about her husband; it was one of the things that first attracted her to him. But there is another side to Phillip, and it's a side he never wanted his wife to see. Though, even if she did, could she do anything but stand by him? Because Phillip has rules, and he expects loyalty from his nearest and dearest... Once you're in the family, you're in it for life...'
~*~ Characters ~*~
Phillip Murphy - The hard man, brains behind the business, and all round 'family man.' Don't be fooled by the soft exterior, get this man wound up and you'll see this man is ruthless in his dealings.
Christine Murphy - The love of his life, mother of his children, and the woman estranged from her mother - but gets on lovely with her mother in law... Only in a book eh!
Philly and Timmy - Christine and Phillip's two sons...
Jamsie, Declan and Breda - Phillip's siblings, all part of the family business...
Eileen and Ted Booth - Christine's parents...
Veronica and Phillip Murphy Snr - Hard man Phillip Murphy's parents...
Obviously there are far more characters than I've mentioned here but since these are the only ones I'll be talking about in any detail only thought I'd introduce them to you all!
~*~ Who Would Want To Be Part Of This Family? ~*~
This was the first Martina Cole book I'd read in a while, and I have to say I was looking forward to getting back into the gritty, and seedy underworld of the south of the country. As far as I can remember the majority of her novels were set in the east end of London, so reading through this one and it being mainly referenced to Southend surprised me slightly - but it made a bit of a change to have somewhere different described for over five hundred pages. So there's a nice positive that after all this time Cole has branched out and set her book somewhere different, now I'm sure someone out there will correct me and tell me she's set one somewhere else before but I don't remember it. The description isn't all that descriptive of the area if I'm honest; some books describe things so that you could practically walk down the street and see exactly where the author was thinking when they wrote it - but Cole doesn't seem to do that. Well unless she's describing someone's grisly murder, in which case she can paint a picture, that even if you have the world's worst imagination you can picture - so beware anyone with a good imagination! I've got a pretty good one and I can be sat reading this book and can almost smell the metallic scent of the blood that's spilling in the book. I should maybe think less while I'm reading, but I quite like imagining I'm there, and that's something you can do in any Martina Cole book, especially in this one - I won't mention any of the murders but there is one that is described in such a way that it will stay with me for quite a while.
The characters in this book well, it was hard throughout the book to decide who I sympathised with most. I tried to be sympathetic to the character that was 'suffering,' the most, but she wrote Christine in such a way that eventually the reader gets to a point where you no longer feel sorry for her - but just wish she would snap out of it and do something about her situation, so in a way it makes you want to empower the character. I'm not excusing however how boring it got hearing about all the drinking and pill popping that seems to be rife in this book, but I'll say this much it made sure I got through those pages faster - mainly because I could have probably written those parts myself! One character in this book that Cole may as well not have bothered putting in was Phillip senior, the bloke is just described as sitting on his backside drinking - so really is there any need for that kind of character they are just wasting sentences in the word count. Veronica, Phillip senior's wife, well she comes across to me as a bit of a Peggy Mitchell, and another person that thinks the world's problems can be solved with a cup of tea - I wish! Breda, Phillip's (junior) sister, really got on my nerves at the beginning of the book, but as it progressed I actually warmed to the characters personality - but it definitely took some time. Declan and Jamsie/James - Phillip's two other siblings seem quite dull and boring at the start of the book, it's not until you get a little bit into the plot that you can begin to get connected, and might I add slightly attached to the boys. Christine's parents Ted and Eileen, we definitely not written to be endearing to anyone, at one point her mother Eileen was written to a level that if she had been a real person I'd have wanted to throttle her (I'm not a violent person either!) Then there is the children of various members of the Murphy clan, they are all quite quiet to begin with and it takes until almost the end of the book to really get any of them to their full potential - now I think Cole might have done this just to get us to keep reading, if she did it worked because I had to find out what happened to them.
Ok, so the characters aren't just what make a book, even though they are quite a detrimental part - without them the book would be a bit empty... The storyline is what is going to keep you hooked for over five hundred pages, the twists and turns of the character's lives intertwined with other characters. It's one thing Cole does brilliantly, there is barely a flaw in her writing when it comes to incorporating a new character into the current ones lives. It seems to be easily done to bring one character in, and wipe out another entirely, but keep your mind so occupied you don't know anything about it. The problem being with the story line of this book is that really it's relying on a basic structure the same as the majority of her previous books. Now I'm not complaining because it is something that works incredibly well for her, and I've not yet wanted to put a book down unless I've had to, but; it comes to a point when you are reading a book and you can see where it's going next - and this one does it in bucket loads, the storyline seems to go round in circles of Phillip wanting to have something, someone saying no, and then by means that are never legal, he gets it. So when something untoward happens like a murder or a fight it catches you really off guard - which I like but it's just not even close to real life as we know it. It's a book I know it's not meant to be like real life, but in books I like an element of realism at least. Now I will stop complaining and mention the fact that just for a change there is an element of happiness in this book, it's very small and read too fast and you'll miss it but there is a genuine warmth when a wedding happens - which is a relatable for us all, well the majority of us anyway.
The way in which Cole writes this book is going to get you thinking and get your imagination going, and your emotions running, whether it be anger, sympathy or sheer disgust. Cole's books have never been for the faint hearted, but this book is a bit tamer than some of her more recent publications - no mention of child abuse, just plain old, brutal, slightly stomach turning murder. Then again it's written in English, quite simple English so that's always a bonus - that is until you get to the slang that she just seems to put in every book, by now given this is almost her twentieth book and having read all, or nearly all of them I'm quite familiar with the rhyming slang she uses. However for a new reader it might take a bit of getting used to, and even now I occasionally have to stop reading to think about what the slang means. Now the one thing I would tell Martina Cole about this book if she ever asked, or if she ever reads this... Stop jumping multiple years with very little explanation of what has happened in between times, it really disorientates the story, and the character development - its fine I can assume what happened between then and now but I'm sure my imagination will fill in the blanks with things that are completely inappropriate! Similarly with the short chapters, what is the point in those, they are merely two paragraphs that detract away from whatever it was I was just reading about, making it harder to get back into the actual grit of the story. Putting two, two paragraph chapters one after the other about something slightly irrelevant isn't going to make it any better, it's just going to annoy the reader.
Anyone would think I didn't actually enjoy this book, but I did - it's as usual a gritty book, dealing with the seedy underworld of the south of the country, with the occasional reference to other places in the UK. Then the book has its moments where I get annoyed, but it proves what a good writer Cole is if she can evoke so many emotions in the space of 500 pages. It is a book, that provides no realism but some things you can relate to down the line somewhere - and if you like a bit of Eastenders and Skulduggery, you're well on track with this book. I could have cheerfully whacked some of the more irritating characters around the head with the book, if they were real! Let's just hope they don't turn this one into a TV programme too, because as much as I enjoyed it I can't stand shouting at the TV for hours on end - plus the neighbours would give me funny looks!
~*~ Price and Availability ~*~
Amazon are currently selling this book for £4.49 with free delivery...
Waterstones have it for £4.79 in store...
WHSmiths have it for £5.19 plus £1.99 postage (but I walked past WHSmiths this morning and they have a book offer on!)
As always check out eBay, your local library and in supermarkets as this book has been spotted recently in Asda, mainly because I bought it in there!
The Family is yet another fantastic book written by the No. 1 bestseller Martina Cole. Its explosive plot has many twists in it which meant I could not put this down. As always Cole just says it how it is, alot of strong language but anyone who reads any of her books will know this and I dont quite think the book would be as good without this! I liked how the story starts back in the 80's and follows right throught to modern day. Everytime I buy a Martina Cole book I always say to myself that it cant be any better than the last but they always are and The Family in my opinion is by far the best she has written and hopefully like some of her other novels this will soon come to our TV screens! So if you are looking for a new book then please get this one as it is AMAZING!!!!!!
Review of 'The Family', a novel by Martina Cole.
This review is based on the hardback version of the novel, ISBN 9780755375493, published by Headline in 2010, 496 pages, cover price £18.99, Genre:- Crime/Thriller.
The storyline begins in 1985 and continues in 2009.
When 15 year old Christine, the beautiful, only child of shop keepers Ted and Eileen Booth, meets the handsome Phillip Murphy, her parents try to warn her against him. He comes from a notorious family who are known criminals.
At 23, Phillip is not only older than Christine but he is more mature and has already made his mark with the criminal element in his area. Christine falls for Phillip and very much against her parents wishes, leaves home and moves in with Phillip's parents.
The couple marry when Christine is 16 and pregnant. The enormity of marrying into the Murphy family hits Christine when she gives birth to her first child, Phillip junior. Her husband, his brothers Declan and Jamsie and their sister Breda, are totally different to anything Christine has ever known before . Her life, although one of wealth and luxury, is funded by crime and violence. To the Murphys, family is everything, until someone steps out of line.
Phillip is the linchpin of the family, ruling his parents and siblings with a rod of iron. He is known as a hard man and his lack of emotion is well documented on the estate where he grew up.
His wife Christine, he loves deeply and unconditionally, he will never let her go and she knows it. The birth of a second child, Timmy, brings home to Christine that she is no more than a housewife and mother by the age of 20 and this is her life for evermore.
She descends into a spiral of depression and survives on a cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, while her husband and his family continue in their single-minded and ruthless fashion to build a huge family empire. Phillip is determined to get his own way in everything he does, no matter who or what gets in his way, any barrier will simply be removed.
The plot continues twisting and turning towards a surprising climax when Christine's world implodes in a way she would never have dreamed possible.
**About The Author**
Martina Cole was born in 1958, she was brought up in Essex. Her first novel, DANGEROUS LADY, was an instant best-seller and became a highly successful TV drama series. Since then Martina Cole has written sixteen more best selling novels, all set in the criminal underworld of London and Essex.
Martina Cole is no stranger to hardship and has taken many knocks in life herself. Her parents both died when she was young and by 18 years of age she was living alone in a Tilbury council flat with her baby son. She says began writing as a way of escaping her own problems.
She has in her own words 'always been a grafter' and has built a comfortable life on the strength of her books. She has divorced twice and has a son, a daughter and grandchildren.
Martina Cole teaches creative writing to inmates at Wandsworth and Belmarsh prisons and is a patron of Chelmsford Women's Aid, which she says is her way of putting something back into society.
For further information about the author and her books, see Martina's website:-
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I have read all of Martina Cole's novels and to be honest have found recent offerings to be a tad repetitive and 'samey', however with 'The Family', she has broken the mould.
The plot is very well crafted as we see the life of Christine Murphy spanning two decades. The characters are remarkably well drawn and whilst some are entirely unpleasant, they are believable and fairly true to life. The Murphy family are portrayed as a family that it is good to get on with, but a nightmare to fall out with.
Martina Cole has used a great deal of factual information in the relating of her plot, the 80's boom years, the lull of recession in the 2000's are all worked into her plot which adds a touch of realism to the story.
As always with a Martina Cole novel the dialogue is punchy, it is peppered with profanities, crude language and shockingly realistic scenes of human depravity. These are, however, totally in keeping with the subject matter of the novel in my opinion.
The storyline is tense and gripping, it is not as gruesome as some of her previous works, but nevertheless, there is violence and bad language in abundance, so anyone offended by this would do well to avoid this author's books.
The fast paced, tension filled plot and the subject matter of a family on the edge made for a truly enthralling novel in my view.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was delighted to see Ms Cole back on form with 'The Family'.
The novel is well written, however I have a real issue with the amount of chapters this novel contains, 156 in total. Many chapters are just one page long, most are three or four pages long.
I have noticed this is becoming the modern way of publishing and printing. More and more recent novels, not just from the pen of Ms Cole, appear in this format.
Personally, I find this irritating, the short chapters spoil my reading pleasure and I rather feel that books are being produced in this way as the publishers think that we all have a very limited attention span!
I can understand children's books being produced in this fashion, but reading matter aimed at mature adults? No, this style is simply not for me!
Perhaps any publishing house reading this review could provide an answer?
This book is in my opinion a novel worthy of a 5* rating. The plot and characters are very well presented and I would recommend the novel to others who enjoy a crime thriller. As with all Martina Cole Novels, I would add the proviso that you need a broad mind to tolerate the language used by the novel's characters.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 February 2011
N.B. My reviews may appear on other sites under the same user name.