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Brother & Sister

3.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Black Swan (January 1, 2005)
  • ASIN: B0084GR8TS
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this tension-filled domestic drama, Joanna Trollope shows how the adoption of two children, now adults, have affected all the families involved--the birth mothers and their later families, the adoptive parents and grandparents, and the adoptees themselves, their spouses, and their children. Nathalie, the partner of Steve Ross and mother of their child, has always considered it an advantage to be adopted, to be "chosen," but when her young daughter Polly needs surgery for a condition that may be inherited, her own adoption becomes an issue for her. Asking "What else don't I know about where Polly's come from?" she suddenly comes to a life-changing realization: "I want to be like people who know where they come from." She and her brother David decide to search for their birth mothers.

The rippling effects of the decision to search for birth mothers dominate this carefully constructed novel. Nathalie's adoptive mother, not surprisingly, is devastated that both of "her" children need to find "other" mothers. The birth mothers, by turn, have created new lives of their own, each dealing with her "lost" child in her own way. Nathalie's husband, David's wife, and their children are also affected, not least by the fact that Nathalie and David choose to share their feelings with each other, rather than with their spouses. As the ripple effects continue, other characters, even including employees, are drawn into the emotional vortex, and unexpected complications send the action in surprising directions with new twists and turns.

Trollope reveals the inner lives of her characters through beautifully realized dialogue, and she pays particular attention to the details of personality and domestic relationships.
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Format: Hardcover
This was my first encounter with Joanna Trollope, and I was thoroughly engaged. There are no peripheral characters. Each person has a dramatic journey, captured by Trollpe economically in well chosen scenarios.

The structure was a clever one: Natalie and David, with different birth mothers are adopted into the same family, each now feels something is missing in their lives, and they are each closer to each other than they are to their partners. Jealousy and fear of loss entwine, leaving everyone unsettled.

The birth mothers' stories are poignant and compelling, as is the struggle and growth of Lynne, the adoptive mother. Natalie's partner and David's wife feel understandably left out of their search, but struggle with their own issues of identity, intimacy and control.

For me, this novel provides an argument for open adoption, at least giving the children a narrative of their own beginnings, and the birth parents some information about the progress of their children if they wish it, or at best a completely open situation where everyone stays, to some extent, a part of each other's lives. But then, that wouldn't make a very interesting novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I am an adoptee, and I have to say that I found this book far off the mark of my experience. Nothing rang true to me in this book except Cora's loss at the substitution of her baby for the real woman who was her daughter. I recently went through my own search and reunion with my birthmother and my mother, my husband and my son could not have been more supportive and interested in my journey. And they shared in it all the way. My new found siblings were also welcoming and loving at a very difficult time. My sister went through her own journey ten years ago and her experience also could not have been more different than the characters in this book. I found most of the characters and their angst totally unrealistic. The author obviously knows nothing of the real adoption, search and reunion experience except from reading about it from these pseudo-experts and their jargon about the "primal scream" of adoptees when they are ripped from their biological mothers at birth. Total bunk. If you are an adoptee don't read this book, and especially don't read it if you ever plan to search for your birth parents. For those who have never gone through the experience, read it, but with a suspension of disbelief, because it is far from the real experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed many Joanna Trollope novels in the past, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. She seems cynical about her characters, and gives them very little self-awareness or sensitivity to other people, and I went through the entire book not really liking anyone. I'm not even sure why I finished it, except that I didn't have any other books handy. Every character seemed self-centered, annoying and immature, rather than complex, likeable, and flawed, as I have felt about the characters in her past novels. Maybe I was just in the wrong mental space to read this book, but I wouldn't really recommend it, as it left me feeling like I had eaten a dry peach.
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Format: Hardcover
When my daughter was little and would get angry with my wife or I, she'd often say, "I want my real parents." As a person who had adoptive grandparents, I found this subject to be fascinating. Trollope's book answers the question about just who our real parents are. If there is a lesson, what I got was that our real parents are the ones who give us love while we're growing up.
The issues in the book are riveting. How our sense of family can be threatened by change and impacts each member of the group shines through. I found it particularly significant that as David and Nathalie find birth mothers Carole and Cora, the reality of these women is a shock to how they had been imagined. Equally fascinating is the dynamic within Carole's family as her husband Connor is supportive and son Martin short circuits finding that he is suddenly not the oldest of his mother's sons.
The characters are all deep. However, the story does take unexpected turns that like an unwanted half brother were not entirely welcome. Nathalie's live-in boyfriend Steve's affair seemed strange to me. We are introduced to him being a stable and supportive mate who then experiences lethal doses of insecurity. The same is true for David's wife Marnie whose insecurity over David's connection to his adoptive sister Nathalie causes anxieties and odd behavior. That the search then results in the ultimate schism of the bond between brother and sister is even less welcome. Satisfying elements of the story are with the adoptive Lynne and her working through her feelings and the scene with son David where he confirms his bond with his adoptive mother. I also enjoyed the exploration into Cora's world and the social situation that brought her to give up her baby.
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