This was a beautiful story. It's told simply, yet some of it is so truthful and honest and eye-opening and profound that I found myself having to take breaks from the story to actually contemplate what I'd just read. I love when stories speak to me in that way.
This story is Cassandra's, and she tells her family's story, beginning in early spring and ending in early fall, entirely through her journal entries. Cassandra is 17, aspires to be a writer, and her journal is a way for her to hone her speed-writing skills, as well as practice different techniques for both telling a story and looking at the world. One could not really find fault with her technique in the latter, as from the very beginning, her observations of life and the people around her, limited though they may be, were profound.
We see through Cassandra's journal an historical account of her family's decline into obscurity and poverty, as well as their present-day struggle to climb up from it.
Cassandra is surrounded by some of the most charismatic and interesting people I've seen in a novel in a very long time.
Her father, a one-time famous author who now spends his days shut up in seclusion.
Her step-mother, a former model who finds pleasure in communing with nature and protecting Cassandra's father from anything that might harm him like a devoted mother hen.
Her sister, who finds poverty unbearable and will do what is necessary to leave it behind her, even if what is necessary means acting out a Regency romance novel.
Her "servant" Stephen, who is utterly and completely devoted to Cassandra, willing to do anything and everything that he can to make her life easier.
Simon, an American man who has recently inherited the property that Cassandra and her family live on, and his brother Neil and obscenely talkative mother.
Cassandra's story takes us with her as she learns about who she really is, who her family really is, and what life and love really are. I wanted a slightly different ending, but the ending I got was honest and real and fitting, even though I can't say it is what I was hoping for. This is a lovely story about growing up and learning what life is really all about.