When We Were Bad

by Charlotte Mendelson

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I really enjoyed this. A rambling kind of family saga in some ways, but the sort that cover a lot of family in a short space of time rather than sort that transcend generations. The central characters are the members of a London Jewish family - Claudia, successful mother, and Norman, unsucessful father, and their four grown up children (for various values of “grown up”).

I found the characters all pretty believable, often they are “larger than life” in the way that real people really are. What I really liked was that the ending of the book didn’t wrap everything up neatly (because frankly I wouldn’t have believed that - there were characters here who weren’t going to see the error of their ways) and that the author didn’t make it clear who she thought was right and who was wrong. (My take would be that I loved Frances, liked Norman and could see where Leo was coming from; totally disliked Claudia and the two younger children were hideous.) I thought it was all going to end in either a big morality tale finish or a huge party where they all lived happily ever after. Neither happened I’m glad to say.

I’ll certainly watch out for more by Mendelson.