The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

A heart-rending tale of a family in turmoil after the death of a child is kept secret from one of his siblings.

When Gill and Gabe’s eldest son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

Told through alternating perspectives, and moving between Tasmania and London, this is a novel about family, food, grief and hope.

For readers of Celeste Ng, Delia Owens, and Anne Tyler, this dramatic, poetic novel explores the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

My Thoughts


Gill and Gabe face every parents worst nightmare when their eldest son Douglas drowns whilst overseas. Whilst fighting their own despair, they make the decision to keep the tragic news hidden from their teenage daughter Sylvia who is incredibly unwell and been in and out of hospital for the past three years as she battles anorexia.

When Gill decides to take their deceit a step further and begins sending letters to Sylvia from her dead brother Douglas, the story takes on a somewhat sinister twist, showing us an insight as to how far Gill is ready to go in order to keep this secret hidden from her daughter. Then there is Teddy, who feels like the forgotten Son throughout this story. The bond and loyalty he shares with his PappaB, his Grandfather who is living with dementia, is so beautiful to follow and really moving.

As the story begins to unfold, and the events of Dougie’s tragic death come to light, you find yourself questioning everything. Rosa – Doulas’ partner seems rather unaffected by the loss, and the events that lead up to his death certainly raise a few questions too. Was Dougie’s death really a tragic accident? and Why is Gill so desperate to hide the truth from her daughter?. These are just a few of the questions you find yourself asking as you lose yourself within this complex story.

This is certainly a thrilling, utterly captivating story that you find yourself fully immersed in from the start. The characters are all wonderfully fleshed out and realistic, with them all having their own flaws that influence their decisions throughout. The storyline itself is something I have never encountered before, with a truly chilling underlying theme and an abundance of twists that keep you enthralled to the very last page. This is a wonderful read.

About the Author

Francesca Haig grew up in Tasmania and is an academic and writer, whose poetry and YA/crossover fantasy have been widely published. She lives in London with her husband and son. This is her first novel for adults.

*Thank you to to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Allen & Unwin and Francesca Haig for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*

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