Set in the near future, Happy Family is a darkly humorous tale about the filters and frames we use to shield ourselves from reality, and what might happen should we discard them.
Germaine Kiecke was a foundling, an orphan, brought up by the infamous ‘Motherhood’ in a Belgian orphanage. Now she is a successful art academic who defines herself by her profession and prefers to experience the world through art and an augmented reality game called Happy Family.
But when the artist Tom Hannah, the creative force behind Happy Family, moves to Spain, surrounds himself with high walls, three large guard dogs called Harpo, Chico and Groucho, and a runaway who teaches him to think like a tree, his existential melt-down threatens all Germaine holds dear.
She is forced to re-engage with life and travels to Spain to try to make things right. Along the way she meets people who are also, for one reason or another, dependent on Tom’s fictional world to augment their own ‘real’ lives.
Well where do I start?
Tom is in crisis, he wonders what is the point of life if you then just die.? Why bother?
He drinks to near oblivion most nights and tries to kill himself. He is saved by Alta and her dog, Badger. She decides to move in with Tom to keep an eye on him.
Tom is the creator of Happy Family, an augmented reality game, think The Sims on steroids!!! Nearly everyone is playing, to augment their own lives…..
This is a tale of loneliness and vulnerability but also hope-ish. It’s also a crazy rush of technology, alternate realities and dark humour. Unique, thoughtful and with a large dose of bonkers.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James has written two novels, The Wrong Story and Happy Family. He has published a number of short stories, a travelogue of his journey through Central America and a monthly column for The Gudgeon magazine. He designs and delivers tutor-led workshops for fiction writers and is a regular speaker at writers’ events.