The Snakes by Sadie Jones - review by Elisa Segrave

Elisa Segrave

Family Fortunes

The Snakes


Chatto & Windus 439pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Sadie Jones, a screenwriter as well as a novelist, specialises in dysfunctional families. Her first book, The Outcast, winner of the 2008 Costa First Novel Award, centred on Lewis, just out of jail, and his distant stockbroker father. Small Wars (2009), like The Outcast set in the 1950s, featured a soldier from a traditional military background fighting in Cyprus and the consequences of trying to keep a stiff upper lip. The Uninvited Guests (2012) depicted a property-owning Edwardian family and the cruelties that lay underneath the surface.

The Snakes is about ‘bad’ parenting. It also tackles inherited wealth and how to deal with it. The main character is Bea, daughter of a self-made man. For two years she has avoided both her parents, particularly disliking her mother. She has determinedly refused any of her father Griff’s money, originally acquired through his Rachman-like property deals. Bea – sometimes a bit priggish – tries to live by her principles, working hard all day as a psychotherapist and returning each evening to a one-room flat in Holloway she shares with her mixed-race husband, Dan.

Dan is a frustrated artist with a day job he hates at an ‘ethical’ estate agent. After serious discussion, he and Bea (feeling guilty about her abandoned clients) let their flat and set off on a three-month holiday in a clapped-out Peugeot. Their first destination is Burgundy, to stay with

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