The Miller family are gathering for Joe’s 75th birthday – eldest son Daniel, paralysed from a car accident the year before, is having trouble accepting this momentous change, and is adjusting to the changes in his relationship with his wife now she’s pregnant (they chose the donor profile together); middle child Jake’s wife is also pregnant, with twins, and he’s feeling more irrelevant by the day, despite his wealth and success; and flightly youngest child Hilary is also pregnant, though the father’s unknown. Unbeknownest to any of them, their mother, Ellen, is falling for her best friend’s widowed husband, and Joe’s not on her mind as much as her should be.
This all sounds like a really interesting set up, with potential for any number of sub-plots and intricacies. But for some reason I did not engage with The Birthdays at all. Perhaps its because I'd only just finished a book that I struggled to engage with (see below), and wasn't up for another effort. Perhaps it’s because by the time I quit, at page 118, the kids still hadn’t met up, and nothing much had happened. I thought about putting it down many, many times before I did and when I finally closed the covers, never to open them again, it was with a profound relief. I’m sure The Birthdays has many strong points; damned if I know what or where they are. – Alex