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Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope, book reviewSince I first read one of Joanna Trollope’s books back in the early nineteen nineties, she has been one of my favourite authors and I look forward to reading her books with pure pleasure. Having just read her latest book, Daughters-in-Law, I can only describe it as a delight from beginning to end.

Joanna Trollope writes about middle class family life so well. In Daughters-in-Law, we meet Rachel and Anthony Brinkley. Rachel has raised three sons and raised them well which has meant that in return she has received their undivided love and devotion. Their home in Suffolk has always been the hub of all her sons’ lives, but now all three boys are married and Rachel’s daughters in law have minds of their own which that does not always mean fitting in with Rachel’s plans. Rachel ultimately realises that she will need to change unless she wants to risk the loving relationship that she has with her sons and grandchildren.

Throughout Daughters-in-Law, the family goes through many crises. All three sons – Ed, Ralph and Luke – experience difficulties with their marriages and it is mainly because the wives are desperate for their men to sever the apron strings. Ed’s wife Sigrid, takes their daughter with her to her native Sweden without him; Charlotte, Luke’s new bride, falls unexpectedly pregnant and is horrified when Rachel is less than delighted. Worst of all though is when Ralph’s business goes bust and after getting a new job in London, his wife Petra refuses to move with him. In the past Rachel and Anthony would have helped them all out but there comes a time when the men have to stand on their own two feet. Will their marriages survive and will Rachel finally accept that the boys have moved on? That is what I wanted to find out as I devoured the pages of this wonderful book.

“I don’t find many books unputdownable but that is how I felt about Daughters-in-Law.”

Daughters-in-Law hooked me in from the very first page and I was rapt until the very last. Joanna Trollope must be very observant as she seems spot on in her observations of family life and the trials and tribulations that accompany it. She describes the situations and the interactions perfectly with a wonderful attention to detail. In fact it is all the little details that she includes that made this book come alive for me. Also, the situations she writes about are very real and so it ensures that you are caught up in the story. I also think that she is brilliant with characterisation. It is very easy to imagine and visualise all of them, especially the three young wives and to sympathise with their despair about the way their husbands always turn to their mother. Equally, one can empathise with Rachel and the way she is finding it so hard to let go. I haven’t made much mention of the male characters who, although also very real, are not as strong as the women. Ultimately, I would say that this is a book about women and especially about the power struggle between different generations.

The book is very well paced and moves seamlessly between the various story lines. I don’t find many books unputdownable but that is how I felt about Daughters-in-Law. This is Joanne Trollope writing at her best, and if you have never read any of her novels, this would be a very good one to start with!

Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope
Published by Transworld Books, April 2011

With thanks to Transworld Books for providing a review copy.

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by Joanna Trollope

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