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Daughters-In-Law. Joanna Trollope [Hardcover]

1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Daughters-in-Law Feb. 5 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't really hate this book, but I belong to a book club and I have not started reading
this book yet but have to order it early to make sure it is available in time. Will
review after 15th of March when we meet to discuss same book.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Characters who care April 5 2011
By Lynne Perednia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Joanna Trollope's books have been derided for years by those who dismiss the homely tales as "Aga sagas", as if tales of heart, hearth and home were beneath readers and writers.

But the crazier the world gets, the more there are times when quiet compassion for the vagaries of the human condition is balm for the reader. This time, like every other, that is exactly what Trollope delivers.

Rachel and Anthony raised three sons. She's a vigorous, involved mother whose kitchen is the natural hub of the family. The two oldest sons are married and now the third has found his bride. Oldest son Edward and Scandinavian wife Sigrid have a daughter and an ordered life. Middle son Ralph's wife Petra was an art student of Anthony's who was taken under their wing and presented to their son; they have two very young sons. Now Luke has wed Charlotte, who also is the baby of her family.

Even during the wedding party scenes, the smallest ripples shimmer across the page to show that, although it appears all is well in these lovely lives, appearances are as deceiving as always. Everything and everyone at first appears competent, compassionate and capable. But they're nearly all hiding secrets of shame or fear of failing in ways that set each other off. Families, after all, always push the right buttons.

Things come to a head when one son's financial woes are taken on as a problem of the entire family and his wife has her own ideas about being led along by the nose to a solution. She strikes up a friendship with another man. It doesn't help that Rachel turns out to be the kind of mother-in-law who considers herself the head of the family, including the family of each of her sons. Her insistence that things be done a certain way and her ability to stick foot in mouth only add to the problems.

Then, just when it appears that each separate house of cards in the various families will collapse, Trollope's characters do what they usually manage to do. They speak openly and honestly to each other about themselves. They notice their own failings. They try to see situations from other people's points of view. And because Trollope writes about each character as if she or he were the main character of their own stories, the reader is able to see these other points of view as well.

Trollope's strength has always been this calm ability to treat characters as individuals who can actually carry through a line of thinking that encompasses more than themselves. Her novels are studies of minute shifts in people's perceptions of themselves and how they fit into their own worlds. Although their scale is small, their accomplishment is a great, good thing.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel about families. April 11 2011
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
British author Joanna Trollope is not as well-known in the US as she is in the UK, but I think as more readers discover her work, she'll gain more prominence here, as well she should.

Trollope, the author of about 10 or so previous novels, does not write "chick-lit". The characters in her books - all stand-alones - are extremely well drawn and the plots are not the simple, simpering plots of the average "chick-lit" novels. Trollope writes about families, in general; families that are facing troubled times, either by financial problems or interpersonal relationship problems. The women are not "beautiful", or "brilliant" or any of those empty adjectives used in most works of fiction to tiresomely describe any female. The men are not "handsome", "brilliant", or "fabulously wealthy", either. Joanna Trollope writes about families in England - usually middle class - who have many of the same problems as the rest of us have.

In "Daughters-In-Law" we find Rachel and Anthony, who have raised three sons, all now in their 20's and 30's, and all married off. Rachel - definitely a "mother-in-charge" of her sons, has found it difficult to relinquish the leadership role to the next generation. However, the two older daughters-in-law are, for the most part,content to keep the family dynamics pretty well the same. It is the addition of the youngest son's bride to the family that has added tension and stirred up problems the older two daughters-in-law have pretty well attended to. One of Trollope's great gifts as a writer is to make the secondary characters as interesting in their own rights as the main characters. We want to know what happens because we find all the characters "interesting". (That doesn't mean that an author only should write about "likable" characters; Tova Reich is a master of writing about interesting but venal characters, and her books are always interesting!)

Trollope looks at the interfering-mother-in-law problem from all angles. Grandparents, children, and grandchildren are all viewed in terms of causes or fallout from this problematical woman and her life and family going forward. Joanna Trollope has written a masterful look at the modern family.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her earlier work but a very satisfying read April 4 2011
By M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was so disappointed with The Other Family and Friday Nights that I almost didn't purchase this. I'm very glad I did purchase it. It reminded me of Marrying the Mistress, which I've read several times.

I did think there was a lack of subtlety and imagination when it came to the situation with Charlotte and it was hard to be sympathetic to Petra because she came across as so unlikable.

I would also have liked to have Rachel's character (the mother in law) and motives more clearly defined earlier in the story but perhaps the late character development was done by design. We got to know her eventually the way the other characters in the story did.

One of the things I love about Joanna Trollope's books is her ability to show a family situation from multiple points of view but in this case there were so many family members and so many points of view that none of them really got the attention that they deserved.

I do wish Trollope would stop having her characters address each other by silly nicknames. In this case she kept having the brothers call each other "bro" which didn't seem to fit with their personalities or the dialogue. I can't help but wonder if it isn't an attempt on her part to identify with and portray people who are young, if so she's failing and needs to give it up.

All in all it was a good read with a satisfying if predictable ending. As both a daughter in law and a mother in law I found it thought provoking and entertaining.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Look at Family Dynamics June 13 2012
By Ladybess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fabulous read. I started reading this yesterday and I haven't put it down. Being the Mother of three grown sons, I can see myself in the role of Rachel. I need to let go...I am no longer the Sun in my sons' lives.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flat book April 1 2014
By R.K. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book was very flat from beginning to end. I expected a book from which I can learn more about the sensitivity of mother/daughters in law relationship. The author did not give me anything new except with Petra as her personality is not common. It is good for a summer read.
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