Posts Tagged ‘Daughters-in-Law’

You can choose your friends but not your relatives. What about in-laws?

Anthony and Rachel Brinkley have three grown sons. The eldest, Edward, a successful businessman, is married to Sigrid. Middle-son Ralph, “so creative,” apparently has been domesticated by quiet Petra, their marriage neatly engineered by his parents. Now handsome young Luke is tying the knot with Charlotte, lovely, spoiled and, as Rachel soon discovers, with a mind of her own.

A willful daughter-in-law who doesn’t want to spend all her time with her new husband’s family? One who resists to driving from London to the Brinkleys’ lovely country home for lovely Sunday dinners? Who wants Luke to cleave to her and make a new family?

The Brinkleys have a cuckoo in their nest, and before long, the other fledglings are showing alarming signs of independence.

Sigrid, who has slighted her family in Sweden, is no longer going to wait around for Edward to join her and their daughter on a vacation back home.

And Petra, mother of two toddlers? Oh, my goodness.  Can you say “passive agressive,” with the emphasis on the latter? She stubbornly refuses to be uprooted from their seaside town so Ralph can follow one of his whims. And apparently she has a new “friend.”

Rachel, so generous, so capable, can’t believe it when she’s accused of meddling. Mild-mannered Anthony wonders where they’ve gone wrong — not the Brinkleys, mind you, but these women married to their sons.

Veteran British novelist Joanna Trollope is expert at charting the ups and downs of family life, the shifting loyalties, elastic emotions, changing dynamics. As in such previous best-sellers as Marrying the Mistress and Other People’s Children, she offers flawed yet sympathetic characters. She captures the banter among siblings, the awkward moments in marriages, the uneasiness between parents and their grown children. She knows that keeping a family together sometimes means giving in, and sometimes even letting go.

The Brinkleys are on a learning curve. Then again, aren’t we all?

Open Book: I like Joanna Trollope’s novels just as much as those of her ancestor Anthony Trollope. I received a digital galley of Daughters-in-Law from publisher Simon & Schuster. It has accordingly vanished into the ether upon publication in trade paperback, which means I can’t pass it on to a certain couple getting married this week.

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