Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Each year, on December 1st, Angela Gillespie sends her end of year letter “Hello from the Gillespies” to family and friends around the world. For a tradition spanning over thirty years, Angela can now almost write it in her sleep … always keeping it cheerful and highlighting the many achievements involving her husband, herself, three grown daughters (including 32-year-old twins) and ten-year-old son. After attaching a couple of photos, Angela usually hits Send.

Except this year when Angela sits down in front of her computer at the Gillespies remote sheep station, Errigal, in outback South Australia, the words just won’t come. As her long-buried emotions boil, the truth finally spills onto the page. Angela’s husband, Nick, is becoming a stranger to her. The twins’ once flourishing careers are imploding, while her third daughter is broke and can’t seem to stop crying. And Angela’s 10-year-old son’s quirkiness is beginning to border on just plain weird.

Angela is the glue holding the Gillespies together, but she’s wearing a little thin from the constant strain. When the email is accidentally sent to everyone on her mailing list, Angela is understandably mortified and in no way prepared for the expected fallout from her family, nor the unexpected praise for her honesty from recipients.

But when Angela is suddenly absent for an extended period from their lives – with no guarantee of return – each Gillespie must look long and hard at the truth and the role each has played.

As honesty and communication replace self-interest and mayhem, the Gillespies pull together to create a more harmonious existence.

I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it to friends as a great holiday read. The characters are recognisable and likeable; though at times I wanted to give several a swift kick in the pants. The stars of this book are the homestead, Errigal, and the South Australian outback – encompassing the history of the region, the generations of Gillespies who have farmed Errigal, some spectacular forces of nature, and the incredible wildlife.