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The Other Family: A Novel Paperback – April 13, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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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.Read more ›
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.
The story has the potential to make a good novel, but it misses the mark. The intertwining of the two families and how they all reacted to Richie's death could have been an engrossing tale, but it just doesn't get off the ground. There needs to be a little more introspection and a little less whining and self-pity.
But I'll probably read her next book. She's capable of brilliant writing. Nobody writes a masterpiece every time.
My problem with the story is that I could only get really interested in two of the characters, the 37-year-old son and the 18-year-old daughter, though I eventually came to care a bit about the first wife as well. Unfortunately, the main focus of the novel is Chrissie--the woman Richie never got around to getting a divorce to marry--whose resentments here are understandable and in many ways deserved but whose relentless self-pity and lack of empathy for others hang over the story like poisoned cloud. As the story went on I found myself resenting having to spend so much time with her and her two older daughters--one of them truly awful, the other merely uninteresting. If only the novel had been centered on Scott and Amy, the two half-siblings who seem to have inherited the family's total store of wisdom, wit and character, I'm sure I'd have loved it. But it wasn't and I didn't.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why doesn't this man have an insurance policy??? His 'wife' is in charge of his affairs and since she knew he wasn't married, why no life insurance? Read morePublished 9 months ago by queenie
Good. Helpful for understanding more about marriages and feelings
and how things often can wind up for good people.
I usually enjoy reading trollope's novels but most of the characters in this book--except for amy, scott, and margaret--are so shallow, selfish, and self-absorbed that it was... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Molly
This book dealt with death, divorce, anger, resentment, but yet had hope in the mix. It also dealt with the legalities of a partner being left with nothing because there was no... Read morePublished 11 months ago by jp
An enjoyable and satisfying book. One to take your time to linger with the characters and follow the author's pace.Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
The story line was good, however, the writing was so-so. This book had little excitement and seemed to drag on and on. It was not a book that you had trouble putting down.Published 13 months ago by Kindle Customer
I liked the idea of this book, but had a very hard time getting into it as the story really dragged.Published 13 months ago by Betsy H