The Spectator (London) review

 

Bronx charm and cheer

Diana Hendry

Saturday, 8th January 2005

At a time when publishers are chasing celebrity memoirs, it seems brave of Bloomsbury to publish the childhood memoir of an American writer little known in this country, though one could argue that with their Harry Potter millions behind them they can afford a risk or two. However, to be on the safe side, Sleeping Arrangements comes larded with the grandee endorsements of Anne Tyler, Harper Lee and Muriel Spark — ‘A great pleasure’.

And indeed it is. Laura Shaine Cunningham, known in the States as a playwright and novelist, has written a book that questions the famous opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, ‘All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ This eccentric family is happy in its own uniquely unconventional way and the charm of Sleeping Arrangements is that it’s a happiness achieved against all the odds. ‘If tragedy has brought us together, it’s comedy that keeps us close,’ Cunningham writes.

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