Rachel and Anthony live a rich life full of art, gardening and cooking in a sprawling, colourful house in Suffolk. They have raised three handsome sons who are now grown up with flourishing careers. The two elder boys are married with children – Edward to the coolly elegant Swedish Sigrid, and Ralph to the artistic, hippyish Petra. The novel opens at youngest son Luke’s wedding to the very pretty and rather spoilt Charlotte. Rachel’s pride at her sons’ success is tempered by a feeling of redundancy – she has always been fiercely protective and supportive of her boys, and now finds her position has been usurped by her daughters-in-law. When problems arise in each of her son’s marriages, her attempts to fix them are seen by the wives as interfering rather than helpful. How Rachel comes to terms with having to step back from her son’s lives and create a new role for herself is the central focus of the novel.
I love Joanna Trollope’s novels. She really understands people, their behaviours and reactions. Her characters always ring true and her writing is elegant, engaging and truthful. And there is a depth to her writing that belies her reputation as the author of cosy “Aga sagas”, which seems to stem from the fact that she writes about domestic issues and family life. Family life is not always cosy. Give her a try! Trade Paperback $32.95