- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone; paperback edition edition (April 13, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439129835
- ISBN-13: 978-1439129838
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Other Family: A Novel Paperback – April 13, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
An unexpected line in a will leads to complications and new beginnings in Trollope's eminently readable latest (after Friday Nights). The novel opens outside London with the sudden death of Richie Rossiter, a once-popular pianist whose star has been on the wane for some time. Chrissie, Richie's partner for the past 23 years, is shocked to learn that Richie has left his piano and his early musical estate to his other family—Margaret, the wife he never divorced, and their son, Scott, now an aimless bachelor. Soon after, Chrissie's youngest daughter, Amy, becomes fascinated with her father's original family and his humble roots, leading to a tentative friendship with her half-brother that may result in new opportunities for both of Richie's families. At times, the grieving characters—particularly Chrissie—seem excessively distraught about trivial matters, but Trollope's keen ear for dialogue and her pointed development of secondary characters keep the novel on the safe side of overwrought, while the hopeful if too tidy conclusion highlights the sometimes surprising possibilities that can emerge in the wake of grief. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When popular crooner Richie Rossiter dies, his longtime partner, Chrissie, is left bereft and angered that she never got Richie to divorce his first wife and marry her, providing security for her and their three daughters. In addition, money becomes a serious issue since she was his manager. Then she learns that Richie amended his will to leave a treasured piano and the rights to songs he wrote early in his career to his first wife, Margaret, and their son, Scott. Chrissie, who refused to ever fully acknowledge Richie’s first family, is left to wonder whether he actually loved her, while Margaret finds herself enormously relieved to discover that she was remembered. The prolific Trollope skillfully engineers a heartwarming story of renewal and hope as she brings the two families closer together. Scott reaches out to Chrissie’s youngest child, providing her with both comfort and a link to her dad’s childhood in Newcastle. Hurt feelings and issues of abandonment vie with the impulse to forge ahead and to heal in this intelligent and moving novel of modern family life. --Joanne Wilkinson
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Top Customer Reviews
Happily, in this novel, she seems to back in form after several disappointing (to me, at least) novels. (I never managed to finish her last, Friday Nights.) The focus of the story is Chrissie, who lives in London with her long-time partner, Richie Rossiter, an older man and an aging pop star that women of a certain age still swoon over, and their three daughters. She wears a wedding ring -- one that she bought for herself, since Richie doesn't want to divorce his first wife, Margaret. (Although he was happy to leave her behind in Newcastle when he headed south with Cassie in search of new horizons and new audiences, decades earlier.) Left behind also was Richie's son, Scott, who becomes the focus of Margaret's life. Margaret also wears a wedding ring -- a real one -- but has no husband to go with it. And then Richie dies suddenly of a heart attack (this is where the book begins), leaving two unanticipated bequests to his old family and a large hole in the center of his new family.
In Trollopian tradition, Richie's will ends up forcing the two families together in a way that both resist and resent, and requires all of them to find a new way to exist. Without realizing it, all five have slipped into ruts of various kinds, and in an effortless way, Trollope points this out while allowing each to make the first tentative discoveries and take the first steps toward change.
It's a predictable kind of novel if you've read her books before, but still satisfying and an enjoyable weekend read. It's a solid 4-star book, extremely well-written. Nothing revolutionary, but recommended to anyone who has enjoyed some of Trollope's better novels (mostly her earlier books; my favorite remains A Spanish Lover: A Novel)
In this novel we find Chrissie and her three daughters trying to recover from the loss of their father and in Chrissie's case, significant other. Richie Rossiter, the father was a vocalist and musician. Chrissie managed his career, and they have been together for awhile. The issue falling before them, is the other family. A wife, Margaret and son, Scott, that Richie left in the north of England in Newcastle. So, here we are with the three daughters and mother in a sort of Cinderella story. The other family the ugly stepsisters. They have never met and each side wants it left that way. The two elder daughters, are spoiled. Chrissie, has made life too easy for her man and for them, even buying her own simulated diamond ring rather than force the issue of marriage. The younger daughter, Amy is adventurous and filled with common sense. At the reading of the will it is discovered that Richie left his piano and the rights to his songs to his wife and son. A storm arises over this and goodwill is not a part of either family's make-up.
Margaret, has always carried a hope that her husband, would come back, and Chrissie, couldn't get Richie to marry her. They have been abandoned. Margaret is a believable woman. It seems to be a goal to have Richie's women end up realising that it is better to stand on their own feet. This is a Chekhovian novel. The characters can't move on, it seems. By the end of the novel, some solutions have been found.
This is an incomplete novel. A wonderful story, but the characters are not fully realized. Why would the son, Scott, who has not seen his father in 25 years be such a positive character in this novel? How does this family full of selfish young women come to understand the issues? Amy, the younger daughter is more mature and sensible than any of the rest of the family, and she and Scott seem like minded. The rest of the family on both sides need more meat in their characters, they are not likable nor full.
Recommended for the story. prisrob 01-04-11
Nothing much seems to happen in this book. The first 50 pages---almost 20 percent of the book---are centered around a funeral. The author captures grief well, but the pace remains slow from there on out.
Even the discussion questions at the back, presumably written by the publisher, are flat--a real reflection of the book. "Does Chrissie seem like a good mother to her daughters throughout their struggle? In what ways does she change or improve as the story continues?" These sound like essay questions for kids in junior high, not prompts to inspire a lively book discussion.
And that's just it--The Other Family simply does not feel alive, and not just because it's about people who are grieving. At the very end of the book (p. 311), one sister says, "might this, might that. Why don't you ever *do* something." I'd guess (strongly) that the whole point of the book is that these families have been sleepwalking their whole lives and the death has fueled a bit of a spark to reawaken them. But the spark is simply too small, and the characters are so unlikeable, readers probably just won't care.
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and how things often can wind up for good people.