The Facts of Life

Written by Graham Joyce
Review by Lorraine Gelly

Frank Vine enters the world at the end of World War II in the city of Coventry, which is a stark ruin. Born into a strong and unique family, Frank has an unusual childhood. His widowed grandmother, Martha, is the tough matriarch in the family of seven daughters. Cassie, the youngest and Frank’s mother, is a free spirit. Realizing that Cassie can’t be trusted alone with a newborn, Martha undertakes to ensure his care by informing the family that they will all be responsible for raising him, the only male child.

Martha and Cassie are psychics. Even though Martha has always fought against it, she gets the occasional “knock at the door” that proceeds some major event in the family’s life. Cassie is convinced that Frank has her special gift as well, and perhaps he does.

Woven into the story of this highly unusual and entertaining family is the story of the post-war years in Britain as well as the blitz that destroyed the medieval city of Coventry. Cassie and family are a strange and wonderful group to spend time with. Through their eyes we can relive those days. Cassie’s experiences during the blitz are eerie yet extremely realistic. This is a story about family bonds, the love and devotion that a mother has for her children, and the will to survive in all of us.