Review ~ A Modern Family by Helga Flatland. #Orentober #TeamOrenda

A Modern Family Cover


When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history. A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

Today as part of Orentober, a celebration of all the amazing books published by Orenda Books, I’m resharing my review of A Modern Family.



I would like to thank the author, the publisher and the blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Just occasionally, you come across a book that is not just a delight to read, it is so special, it’s placed on the bookshelf labelled, My All Time Favourites. A Modern Family now sits proudly on that shelf, resplendent in its glory as one of the most perceptive reads I’ve had the joy of reading in many a long year. It joins many others from Orenda Books, small and yet incredibly special independent publisher, whose championing of its authors, has given us books that should be gracing the top literary prizes.

I don’t normally compare one writer with another, but in this case I think it is fair and a complement to both. Helga Flatland has the same ability to deliver a story that shines with poetic clarity and is peopled with a rich tapestry of descriptive characterisation as is Elizabeth Strout. Here we have a story that takes ordinary people, their rich and complex emotions and weaves a tale of their struggles to understand both themselves and their family.

Told from the points of view of siblings Liv, Ellen and Hakon it deals with the reactions they each have to their parent’s decision to divorce. From this moment on their lives and family begin to unravel. These amazingly characters could be you and me or our families; the beauty of the story being that as you read, you can’t help but begin to look at yourself and those around you, wondering if you really know them, despite what we think is the strongest of bonds. All the characters in this book, felt like friends, ones I wanted to spend a lifetime with. I think they will remain with me for many years to come. They are drawn with vivid strokes of the pen, so that you can’t help but feel deeply for them. Their power over the reader, born from their normality, from fact that the pain, love and troubles that grip them, have all been faced by many of us.

The story is told with a deceptive simplicity, characterisation being a shining beacon that lights up a powerful story, of the fragility of the threads that connect us. Yet the story is not one of hopelessness, it is in fact a tale of hope and the enduring power of love and forgiveness. I didn’t want it to end, I always wanted to be there with them. As the story, brought their thoughts and lives into my world, like a richly woven tapestry. Intricate, careful, yet perfectly written, I could find no fault with it.

I can not recommend this book highly enough, I still miss Liv, Ellen and Hakon ‘s voices now and I think I always will.

Utterly spellbinding and perfect in every way.

You can purchase A Modern Family from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author 

Helga Author Pic

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

You can follow the author on Twitter


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