Funny. Heartrending. Uplifting.
  • The Family String
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The Family String

Denise Picton

A darkly funny and poignant coming of age story by an extraordinary new voice.

Meet Dorcas, a spirited 12-year-old struggling to contain her irrepressible humour and naughty streak in a family of Christadelphians in 1960s Adelaide. She is her mother’s least favourite child and always at the bottom of the order on the family’s string of beads that she and her younger siblings Ruthy and Caleb reorder according to their mother’s ever-changing moods. 
Dorcas, an aspiring vet, dreams of having a dog, or failing that, a guinea pig named Thruppence. Ruthy wants to attend writing school, and Caleb wants to play footy with the local team. But Christadelphians aren’t allowed to be ‘of the world’ and when their older brother Daniel is exiled to door knock and spread the good word in New South Wales after being caught making out with Esther Dawlish at youth camp, each try their hardest to suppress their dreams for a bigger life. But for a girl like Dorcas, dreams have a habit of surfacing at the most inopportune moments, and as she strives to be the daughter her mother desires, a chain of mishaps lead to a tragedy no one could have foreseen. 

​This is a superb coming of age story that explores a fraught mother-daughter dynamic, and the secrets adults keep from their children. It is about resilience, and the loves that sustain us when our most essential bonds are tested, and how to find the way back through hope and forgiveness.

About the Author

Following the establishment of a career leading human services, Denise Picton retrained in business and established a management consulting firm that has worked across Australia and Asia for over thirty years. In her twenties she published short fiction in literary journals, and returned to writing to begin work on a series of novels in her fifties. This is her debut novel.   


'I adored The Family String  warm, funny, heartfelt and impossible to put down. One of the most resonant voices I’ve had the joy of reading in a very, very long time. Dorcas is a truly unforgettable character – finishing this book felt like taking a deep breath and bidding a bittersweet farewell to a well-loved friend.' — Eliza Henry-Jones, author of In the Quiet


 'A heart-breaking but also wildly funny coming of age novel, which made me want to reach into its pages so I could give Dorcas a massive hug.' Red magazine


‘Picton nails Dorcas’s voice in this heart-warming coming-of age novel set in 1960s Adelaide, in a family where resilience is set against the difficulties of depression and family mishaps.’ The Daily Mail


'Picton establishes a strong rapport between reader and character. Dorcas is such a deep, rich, lovable character ... A really engaging read.'  Good Reading


'When I was not reading this book, I was thinking about this book. My heart was with Dorcas on every step of her journey.’ – Aurelia Orr, Readings ​


‘If you’re into complex depictions of mother-daughter relationships this one’s for you.’ – Pedestrian




Pub Date
March 2023




Family. Mental Health. Love.