Christmas comes but once a year. Luckily . . . The Christmas holiday is, traditionally, a time when families gather together. In Ralph's case this means ten or more relatives coming to stay, including assorted aunts and uncles, nutty Great-Aunt Ida (the Home tells them to be careful not to let her out) and his ghastly cousins: Titania in her silly, sick-making frilly fairy dresses and the twins Sylvester and Sylvia (it took until Easter last year before the family dog got over them).
Jammed into one small house for three days of merriment and family fun, with the tv on the blink and Mum on the verge of a breakdown, it soon becomes obvious that, in this house, more definitely does not mean merrier . . .
Anne Fine at her wittiest
Fine powerfully captures the chaos, frenetic activity and disharmony some families generate. The pace, humour and dramatic repartee could be those of an Alan Ayckbourn play
There's a grim cast in this hilarious but barbed story of how Christmas can go so wrong for so many people
Anne Fine works miracles with her just sharper-than-life observations
A gorgeously observed tale of what Christmas can really be like