E. Arnot Robertson’s Ordinary Families, originally published in 1933, depicts the life of a family living on the east coast of England whose life revolves around sailing. Events are depicted through the eyes of the second youngest daughter, Lallie. The author is especially good at showing the ways in which a child, although acutely observant, doesn’t always fully understand the adult significance of what she sees. The author is also excellent at distinguishing the personalities of a large cast of characters. The sequence of events, some sad, some funny and some with unanticipated consequences, over time gradually reveals how ordinary family life isn’t really ordinary and how the internal life of family members isn’t always obvious even to other members of the family. Robertson was a very popular and successful novelist during the 1930s and 1940s, and she also sailed with her husband and family. Her Four Frightened People is also a great read.
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