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Daughters-in-Law Paperback – April 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Short on plot but long on emotion, Trollope's latest (after The Other Family) is a straightforward take on the ways we shape and reshape our idea of family. Though her three sons are grown and married, Rachel is unwilling to let go of her role at the center of their lives, much to the dismay of her daughters-in-law. Responsible Edward, the eldest, feels the burden of being the good son, but his consuming roles as son and brother are jeopardizing his relationship with his own wife, Sigrid, who sacrificed her relationship with her family in Sweden to build a life with him. Rachel and her husband coddled their middle son, Ralph, even matchmaking him with fragile Petra, whose marriage is made uneasy by the large role Ralph's family has in their life. And willful Charlotte quickly finds herself at odds with Rachel after her marriage to youngest son Luke, when Charlotte challenges Rachel's hold on the family's habits. Though genuinely caring, the characters slight each other as they tumble toward individual crises. There's nothing groundbreaking, but it's a decent fix for family drama addicts. (Apr.)
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“Trollope is a quietly brilliant, mesmerizing storyteller. Her readers are fully engaged from the first paragraph of each book to its last sentence, captured by the finely rendered details of the characters' lives and caught up in their struggles.” --Washington Post*

“[Trollope] aims for the heart… and she hits it.”

The New Yorker

Joanna "
Joanna Trollope creates an impeccably observed world, exploring the vagaries of love and family ties with honest grace.”

--Connie May Fowler, author of How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly

“[A] thoroughly engaging, intelligent, literate novel.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451618387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451618389
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years. Some of her best known works include The Rector's Wife (her first #1 bestseller), A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress. She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature. She lives in England.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Lynne Perednia VINE VOICE on April 5, 2011
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.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2011
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".
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M on April 4, 2011
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Free2Read on November 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I highlighted a number of passages in my Kindle edition of this insightful book about families and marriage. Trollope introduces us quickly to an extended family, three sons, their wives, some of the other in-laws, but I was soon clear on who was who. I loved the setting, along the seaside, inland, and in London. Anthony thinks of his little artist's shed, "a place of evolution and a promise."

The focus begins with the son's parents,Anthony and Rachel, as their son, Luke marries. It's always fun to start a book at a wedding, especially when the new father-in-law has kind thoughts about the bride's derriere! Anthony and Rachel have absorbed two previous daughters-in-law into their family traditions, and they expect the new Charlotte will be as tractable at the others.

We come to learn that the others feel distressed by the constant tug of Rachel on the lives of her grown and married sons. Rachel says things she should not. The whole family is thrown into taking sides.

As the story moves on, we have a variety of third-person focuses, so that we know what is going on in the minds of the many characters, including the children's.

One of my favorite quotations from this book is this one: "You can change your situation, but it will be the same one if you don't change yourself."

Learning to live with others by respecting the person as is, not trying to change him/her or interfere in the decisions young adults make for themselves as a couple--what a great theme and reminder for the complicated web of families most people have.
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