The Family Next Door is a recent entry in the domestic fiction genre that reminds us the walls of a home contain many secrets.
Much in the style of Liane Moriarty and Desperate Housewives, the novel follows four women and their families, uncovering the hidden dramas in their everyday lives.
Type-A Ange is a successful realtor and keeps her family on a tight schedule. Quietly desperate Fran struggles to find normal in the aftermath of her husband’s depression. With the help of her always-present mother, Essie cautiously tries to make things work with baby #2 after suffering postpartum psychosis with her first child.
Newcomer Isabelle raises the neighborhood’s suspicions. Oddly, the single Isabelle moved into a family neighborhood with no family of her own (oh no! Not a singleton!).
The Family Next Door disrupts the idea of a perfect home. That enviable neighbor likely has problems of their own that they’re dealing with in private.
“Things were far better watched from a distance….When you watched too closely, you saw things you didn’t want to see.”
– Sally Hepworth, The Family Next Door
The domestic fiction genre has been showing an intimate look at how people live or hundreds of years.
The intimate details that make up a family and culture are fascinating to look at.
These books give a snapshot of society and the evolution of issues that concern people through history (especially women, who are often the center of these stories). The world’s issues live in the periphery, viewed through the characters’ eyes. The books aren’t about the world itself, but about the microcosms living within it.
What is a day in the life like for a soldier after the war? What does a dinner party look like? What is a woman’s worth? What makes her life a success? What roles are men supposed to fill? What day-to-day responsibility does a man have as a parent? How does the community deal with mental illness? Is food easy to come by? How do people make money? These questions have varying answers over time through the pages of these novels.
If you enjoy domestic fiction, you might check out these recommendations:
Modern domestic reads:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle
Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Historic domestic fiction:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf