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Other People's Children [Paperback]

Joanna Trollope
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 16 2009
It’s hard enough when your parents split up but what happens when other people’s children enter the picture?

When a man and a woman get married, things can get complicated — and even more so when a man and a woman who are divorced get remarried. And when there are children from previous marriages, ‘complicated’ can become the understatement of the century. Other People’s Children concerns that expanding social unit: the stepfamily. It explores the myths, the truths, the ridiculousness, the tenderness and the difficulties of trying to simultaneously deal with present relationships, past relationships and, above all, other people’s children.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A skilled artisan of nuance and insight reveals a vigorous new edge as she explores the painful and contentious arena of stepfamilies. Here Trollope focuses on three women and two men who wrestle with new family configurations, along with their six children, ranging from eight to 28. When Josie marries Matthew, she already has experience as both a mother and stepmother, and she feels prepared for the impending battles with Matthew's difficult and bitter ex-wife, Nadine. But her patient determination crumbles as Matthew's three children turn sullen, mutinous and downright nasty to Josie and her eight-year-old son, Rufus. "Has it ever struck you that stepchildren can be quite as cruel as stepmothers are supposed to be?" Josie asks her sister-in-law, who later observes, "Everyone seems to expect so much of women it nearly drove you mad." Things seem at first to be a lot easier for Josie's ex-husband, Tom, an architect who has two other children besides Rufus (Tom's first wife died suddenly when his children were small). In no time Tom has a fianc?e, the calm and reasonable Elizabeth, whom Rufus (who visits Tom regularly) seems to like rather well. It is Tom's 25-year-old daughter, Dale, who can't bear to see her father passionately in love. The narrative moves back and forth between Josie and Elizabeth as the latter finds her new life in sudden turmoil; the spare, dramatic revelation of Dale's psychological hold on Tom injects Hitchcockian suspense. Though Trollope's wry intelligence supports the plot, her command of raw emotional contentAher portraits of the children, for exampleAis equally impressive. The urgency of her vision adds clout to this affecting drama. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections; Penguin audio; author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Berkley will publish The Best of Friends in March. Trollope will be Writer in Residence at Victoria magazine during 1999.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

A tale about stepfamilies.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Other People's Children by Joanna Trollope May 9 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Josie has just married Mathew, whose 3 teenage children live with their mother Nadine. Josie's son Rufus will live with Josie and Mathew but secretly Rufus prefers his father Tom's house, especially since Tom met Elizabeth......what will happen when Nadine relinquishes the 3 teenagers to Josie and Mathew>? Will Elizabeth be able to give up Rufus even if she cannot see a future with his father? This is a sentimental but highly readable book on the effects faced by adults and children, when family dynamics change. Trollope has a gift for succint and emotive language whereby the reader as onlooker can be totally absorbedinto the minutae of family life, and ordinary domestic events are invested with a poignancy that lingers as surely as similar real life scenarios . Th story takes us through the adjustments needed by two divorces and a remarriage, the consequences managing to rebound on every adult and child involved. The traumas of key figures such as Josie the new stepmother, fighting the negative stereotypes , despite Nadine's irrational and abusive behaviour toward her children, are compulsive, as are Elizabeth's struggles with the destructive pattern of possessiveness set by Tom's adult children. The reader is made increasingly aware that no clear cut answers are in view, but the unexpected joys of people overcoming emotional baggage, make for a positive and generous novel on the extended family model.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Other People's Children by Joanna Trollope May 9 2000
Format:Audio CD
Josie has just married Mathew , whose 3 teenage children currently live with their mother, Nadine. Josie's son, Rufus will live with Josie and Mathew but he secretly prefers his father Tom's house, especially since Tom met Elizabeth.....what happens when Nadine relinquishes the children to Mathew and Josie? And when Elizabeth wants to mother Rufus but cannot see a future with his father? This is a story about circumstances that many families, both adults and children, will face at every level of society. Trollope has a great gift for succint and emotive language that turns so called ordinary events into meaningful and poignant moments and where the reader as onlooker, is totally absorbed into the minutae of family interaction. Without choosing sides or casting blame , Trollope takes us through the changes and adjustments that two divorces and a remarriage make for all involved. For eg Josie as stepmother must defy the stereotype of the "other woman" made harder by natural mother Nadine's destructive and irrational behaviour, pushing the loyalties of her children constantly to the test. Elizabeth comes up against the extreme reactions of Toms' adult children who will not allow Tom a second chance. Triumphs and tragedies are experienced by each participant as they pick up the pieces of a new family structure, and the reader is left with a strong awareness that there are no clear cut answers . Only that the immense efforts made by step- families can result in unexpected successes. Sentimental it may be, but this novel is a positive and generous slant on the extended step family.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pitifully pedestrian Sept. 10 2002
By A Customer
This was the first book by Ms. Trollope I have read; it will be the last. I guess this is what might be referred to as a woman's book. But it is certainly not every woman's. The dialogue was deadly dull. There was nothing in the characters which came alive for me so I couldn't care about any of them. The subject of dysfunctional families can be handled with empathy and drama even if one hates the protagonists. I was simply bored by all of them principally because of the pedestrian writing devoid of emotion stirring descriptions. They were all cardboard figures. If you want to read about troubled familial relationships treat yourself to "The Correction", by the brilliant Jonathan Franzen. Even if you hate some of the characters they are unforgettably alive. Maeve Binchy is another gifted author who writes convincingly and with humor and sympathy about families. It's hard to understand the rave reviews for Ms. Trollope.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Only Hurt the Ones You Love... Oct. 22 2002
Sometimes it's hard to review Joanna Trollope's books for fear of putting off a potential reader. Such is the case with "Other People's Children," which is a brilliant look at what step- families are really like. I know that I, reading the above sentence, would think, "Oh, not again, it's been done to death, yuck." And then I would have missed one of Trollope's best works, one that is not boring in the least, and that has such insight, such truth, that it can enrich any reader.
So. That having been said, please bear with me as I try to explain this book, which is slight on plot and heavy on insight. It involves a number of very nice people of all ages, from young Rufus, just 7 when the book begins, to a 20-something engaged couple, to a 30-something newly married pair who are blending their respective families, to a May-September relationship between a single woman in her early 40s, Elizabeth, and a twice-married architect with two adult children from his first marriage, and Rufus from his second. This man's name is Tom. It is his adult son, Lucas, who is engaged (to Amy), and his second wife, Josie, mother of Rufus, whose recent remarriage has blended two families. Her husband, Matthew, has his hands full with his teenaged girl and boy, and a younger girl as well, all of them products of a highly dysfunctional mother whose sick dependence on them makes it nearly impossible for Matthew and Josie to have a normal life, especially with Lucas added to the mix.
It is Tom's adult daughter Dale, however, who causes the most destruction in this story, once again illustrating Trollope's favorite "no man is an island" theme.
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