I was drawn to The Antiques as the blurb compared it to the work of Jonathon Tropper and Karen Joy Fowler. It is like some of their books – a quirky, family based drama.
The father of this family, George, has terminal cancer. The book starts with his final day alive, showing each of his family, dealing with his illness and imminent death.
George’s wife Ana is trying to support him but his sometimes gruff and demanding manner drains her. In amongst the storm that is taking over the city, she prays that ‘St Mary’s was open and the wine bar, too. If she didn’t squeeze in some away-from-George time … she was going to lose it for sure’. She is holding together the antique business they own, without the financial expertise he brings to it.
Son Josef runs a business that had been making money, at the expense of his relationship with his ex-wife and daughters Isobel and Florence, but was now sinking fast. He spends so much time ‘on the Internet – hunting porn, perusing craigslist casual encounters’ it was even beginning to worry him.
Charlotte, or Charlie as she is known, is unhappily married to Rey, and they disagree over the parenting of their son Abbott, who has special needs. She works for a publicity agency in Los Angeles and is responsible for new star Melody Montrose, who has a son around Abbott’s age, who Charlie also has to run around after. She is pulled in all directions.
Son Armie can’t leave the house, and his mother tries to get him out of there, and ‘into life’. He is obsessed with old school friend Audrey. His father tells him to ‘grow some balls!’ and he and the rest of the family know that he is his father’s least favourite child.
And then George dies leaving his grieving wife and children to sort out the details of the business and the value of a painting he hopes will give them all some financial security. ‘Let them find whatever it is they were looking for in this life. Let them be happy’.
This book looks at a family where the offspring have ‘veered along such wild and disparaging paths’ their parents cannot keep up. It addresses sibling rivalry, parental favouritism, broken relationships and new starts. With humour and a gentle touch, it shows that silver linings can come from loss, and that hope can spring from places it was not thought possible.