Wonderfully crisp family saga

2011-06-22 00:00

I’VE never read one of Joanna Trollope’s novels before, so I embarked on Daughters-in-Law without any preconceived ideas and was delighted with what I found.

Trollope has a real knack of making her characters real — warts and all. They are not always terribly nice people, but you can’t help engaging with them and sharing the journey they go on.

The novel kicks off with the wedding of Luke, the youngest son of Rachel and Anthony Brinkley, to Charlotte, an event which provides an unexpected catalyst for change in the Brinkley family.

Up until this point life has always revolved around the Brinkley’s home in Suffolk, where Rachel was the archetypical matriarch, dispensing hearty meals and plenty of advice.

Charlotte proves to be a tough nut, however, and is determined not to let her new mother-in-law have the upper hand. Rachel is angry and distraught, and things only get worse when her eldest son, Ralph, and his wife, Petra, start having problems. Instead of being asked for her help, Rachel discovers that she is viewed as interfering and part of the problem — her children, it seems, no longer need her help.

Trollope’s writing is wonderfully crisp and had me eagerly turning the pages to find out how this family crisis would eventually resolve itself. I won’t say a word about what happens — but I will say that this book is a must for both Trollope fans and those who love a good saga.

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