The storyline begins in 1985 and continues in 2009.
When 15 year old Christine, the beautiful, only child of shop keepers Ted and Eileen Booth, meets the handsome Phillip Murphy, her parents try to warn her against him. He comes from a notorious family who are known criminals.
At 23, Phillip is not only older than Christine but he is more mature and has already made his mark with the criminal element in his area. Christine falls for Phillip and very much against her parents wishes, leaves home and moves in with Phillip’s parents.
The couple marry when Christine is 16 and pregnant. The enormity of marrying into the Murphy family hits Christine when she gives birth to her first child, Phillip junior. Her husband, his brothers Declan and Jamsie and their sister Breda, are totally different to anything Christine has ever known before . Her life, although one of wealth and luxury, is funded by crime and violence. To the Murphys, family is everything, until someone steps out of line.
Phillip is the linchpin of the family, ruling his parents and siblings with a rod of iron. He is known as a hard man and his lack of emotion is well documented on the estate where he grew up.
His wife Christine, he loves deeply and unconditionally, he will never let her go and she knows it. The birth of a second child, Timmy, brings home to Christine that she is no more than a housewife and mother by the age of 20 and this is her life for evermore.
She descends into a spiral of depression and survives on a cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, while her husband and his family continue in their single-minded and ruthless fashion to build a huge family empire. Phillip is determined to get his own way in everything he does, no matter who or what gets in his way, any barrier will simply be removed.
The plot continues twisting and turning towards a surprising climax when Christine’s world implodes in a way she would never have dreamed possible.
**About The Author**
Martina Cole was born in 1958, she was brought up in Essex. Her first novel, DANGEROUS LADY, was an instant best-seller and became a highly successful TV drama series. Since then Martina Cole has written sixteen more best selling novels, all set in the criminal underworld of London and Essex.
Martina Cole is no stranger to hardship and has taken many knocks in life herself. Her parents both died when she was young and by 18 years of age she was living alone in a Tilbury council flat with her baby son. She says began writing as a way of escaping her own problems.
She has in her own words ‘always been a grafter’ and has built a comfortable life on the strength of her books. She has divorced twice and has a son, a daughter and grandchildren.
Martina Cole teaches creative writing to inmates at Wandsworth and Belmarsh prisons and is a patron of Chelmsford Women’s Aid, which she says is her way of putting something back into society.
For further information about the author and her books, see Martina’s website:-
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I have read all of Martina Cole’s novels and to be honest have found recent offerings to be a tad repetitive and ‘samey’, however with ‘The Family’, she has broken the mould.
The plot is very well crafted as we see the life of Christine Murphy spanning two decades. The characters are remarkably well drawn and whilst some are entirely unpleasant, they are believable and fairly true to life. The Murphy family are portrayed as a family that it is good to get on with, but a nightmare to fall out with.
Martina Cole has used a great deal of factual information in the relating of her plot, the 80’s boom years, the lull of recession in the 2000’s are all worked into her plot which adds a touch of realism to the story.
As always with a Martina Cole novel the dialogue is punchy, it is peppered with profanities, crude language and shockingly realistic scenes of human depravity. These are, however, totally in keeping with the subject matter of the novel in my opinion.
The storyline is tense and gripping, it is not as gruesome as some of her previous works, but nevertheless, there is violence and bad language in abundance, so anyone offended by this would do well to avoid this author’s books.
The fast paced, tension filled plot and the subject matter of a family on the edge made for a truly enthralling novel in my view.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was delighted to see Ms Cole back on form with ‘The Family’.
The novel is well written, however I have a real issue with the amount of chapters this novel contains, 156 in total. Many chapters are just one page long, most are three or four pages long.
I have noticed this is becoming the modern way of publishing and printing. More and more recent novels, not just from the pen of Ms Cole, appear in this format.
Personally, I find this irritating, the short chapters spoil my reading pleasure and I rather feel that books are being produced in this way as the publishers think that we all have a very limited attention span!
I can understand children’s books being produced in this fashion, but reading matter aimed at mature adults? No, this style is simply not for me!
Perhaps any publishing house reading this review could provide an answer?
This book is in my opinion a novel worthy of a 5* rating. The plot and characters are very well presented and I would recommend the novel to others who enjoy a crime thriller. As with all Martina Cole Novels, I would add the proviso that you need a broad mind to tolerate the language used by the novel’s characters.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 February 2011
N.B. My reviews may appear on other sites under the same user name.