03 March 2009


by Ilsa Evans

Pan Macmillan Australia. Adult Other. Australian. Paperback rrp $32.99

I picked up The Family Tree and after reading the back cover blurb I thought that maybe this was a book I could relate to. Evans must have been peeking through the curtains of my mind to pick up on my thoughts!

Kate Painter is 47 years of age, a wife, mother, editor but – she wishes – she was a writer. She used to write at university but then life was put on hold as she went off to work (only temporarily until she could write full time, she told herself), got married, had children. Suddenly Kate realises that she hasn’t done the one thing she set out to do all those years ago. To write a book!

When her cousin and best friend, Angie, decides to rent out her spare room, Kate jumps at the chance. She tells her husband, Sam, and her adult children that it is so she won’t be distracted from her writing. She will only be six months. But is Kate really running away?

Kate’s father died tragically the year before and she has been unwilling to let go. Everyone thinks that his death is somehow related to Kate’s out of character behaviour. But Kate doesn’t see that she has changed. She always wanted to be a writer and this is the perfect opportunity.

Comfortably settled in Angie’s unit, Kate finds it isn’t as easy as she thought to put pen to paper. What to write? She starts exploring her past - a quite unusual past where she and Angie were brought up together by Kate’s widowed father, James, and Frank, James’ brother and Angie’s father. When she starts to delve into the past she decides to trace Angie’s mother, Sophie, who took off with her one-eyed paramour to places unknown. Maybe she can find where Sophie went and if she is still alive. What a story that would be!

When the past and present collide it isn’t the explosion she thinks it will be. But it’s so much more than the story she expected.

Once the door is opened, it allows Kate to come to a realisation about her father, her husband and herself. Does she write the book? You’ll have to read this book to find out! This is an intriguing story that makes me want to research more on my own family (nothing exciting probably there) and perhaps even write a book! Sigh! One day!


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