About the book
Why would a cremated grandmother deserve punishment? In search of answers, the protagonist delves into her family history. During the late 1960s, it seems the entire world is changing, but in this bourgeois Catholic part of Belgium, much remains the same. As a child, her father goes with his parents to church every week, as a formality. Afterwards, they eat, drink and listen to Maria Callas, often in the company of Albert, their rich, eccentric family friend. He also pays for all of their family vacations to Europe’s elegant resorts. But under that layer of luxury and the good life hide unmentionable, destructive desires. Why do mothers whisper that they do not dare leave their child alone with Albert? And why does love so often resemble a transaction in this environment?
Heleen Debruyne found inspiration for Friend of the Family in her grandparents’ letters and journals. These prompted her to explore motherhood, love and intimacy. A story about how the past stubbornly keeps influencing the present.