Both Your Houses

Sarah Harrison

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04 December 2014
422 pages

The Blakes and the Armitages enjoy the kind of friendship that endures: a civilised relationship based on mutual hospitality and shared parental experience. Both couples take comfort in the knowledge that they're not the only ones whose offspring are a headache.

Giselle, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Hester and Jonty Blake, is the biggest headache of all. Surly, uncommunicative and profoundly antisocial, 'Grizzle' has embraced all the worst excesses of her generation. Where, the Blakes ask themselves, will it all end? So when she unexpectedly starts seeing Gavin Armitage, middle son of their oldest friends and owner of the most talked-about restaurant in London, they are delighted. Could this herald Giselle's return to the human race, and even closer connections between the two families? The omens are promising. But as the ill-starred affair goes from bad to worse both the Blakes and the Armitages are forcibly reminded of the old adage about blood being thicker than water . . .

Both Your Houses is a warm, funny and acute portrayal of the hidden tensions which exist between family and friends. Peeling back the surface of social and domestic minutiae to reveal the insecurities and stubbornness to which we are all susceptible, it is a very special novel by a gifted and perceptive writer.

Witty, clever and very sharp

Mail on Sunday

A sympathetic look at the hurdles of family life . . . a great read