Dream families

Who would not welcome a return of the extended family? Yet Helen Wilkinson's argument (Essay, 9 August), in which she predicts such a comeback, is curiously insubstantial, based on wishful thinking.

Her third way between nostalgic conservatism and complacent liberalism rests on a strange mix of interviews, television sitcoms and films, with Hugh Grant's famously one-dimensional acting presented as evidence that "the amicable break-up is becoming reality". The make-believe world of Four Weddings and a Funeral takes up rather more of Wilkinson's time than the real-life suffering caused by the accelerating divorce rate.

What are we left with? A double-act of blithe assertion ("diversity is king") and vacuous utopianism: "We can make the birth of tomorrow's family easier, less painful, even a source of delight."

Tim Pemberton
London W7