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The Birthday (2010)

It's Fran's 60th birthday. Her out-of-work son, Ben, is depressed and bordering on drug addiction while her daughter, Emily, is embroiled in an affair. Fran's husband Duncan, recently retired, is acting strange, recalling holidays to Florence they've never been on and talking about Alexa, whoever she is. It's not a family recipe for a good birthday celebration - as they all gather to celebrate, secret after secret tumbles out causing irreparable damage. The novel tells the story by dipping in and out of the past, revealing the secrets which emerge at the birthday. I found myself turning pages quickly trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together but there are lots of nice twists and turns to keep you on your toes. (AB)

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