Daughters-in-Law, Joanna Trollope

Daughters-in-Law, Joanna Trollope

Touchstone, 336 pages

ISBN 9781451618389


Anthony and Rachel Brinkley have an enviable life.  Anthony still lives in the Suffolk farmhouse where he grew up, and turned his boyhood passion for sketching wildlife into a career as an acclaimed artist of local birds.  He married Rachel, who transformed the rundown house into a creative sanctuary and put all her remaining energy into raising their three boys:  Edward, Ralph, and Luke.  For over thirty years, Anthony and Rachel have shared this life, and now that their youngest son is getting married, everyone’s lives are about to change.

Nothing much changed when Edward and Ralph got married.  Edward married a quietly analytical Swedish scientist named Sigrid, and they live a politely detached life in London with their daughter.  Edward’s family visits the Suffolk farmhouse from time to time, and Edward makes himself available for regular phone chats.  Ralph’s wife, Petra, was an art student of Anthony’s, and Anthony and Rachel thought her calm, accepting nature might be helpful for their temperamental son.   Ralph and Petra got married at the Suffolk farmhouse and she comes over with their two little boys nearly every day. 

But Luke is a different story.  His bride, Charlotte, does not want to be subsumed into the Brinkley clan; she would prefer to make her own home with Luke and establish herself as its matriarch. 

Then Ralph loses his job, detaches emotionally from his wife, and throws himself into a downward spiral.  Rachel tries to help by summoning Anthony, Edward and Luke into supportive positions.  But the daughters-in-law view Rachel’s actions as interference, and suddenly, the Suffolk farmhouse is no longer the centre of the Brinkley’s lives. 

A thoughtful, even-handed examination of the relationships between parents, their adult children, and their adult children’s families, Daughters-in-Law is highly recommended for readers who enjoy domestic drama.



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6 Responses to Daughters-in-Law, Joanna Trollope

  1. Alex says:

    There was a time when I automatically read every new Trollope novel as it appeared but a number of recent blog posts have made me realise that I’ve stopped doing that. I shall have to go back and see what I’ve been missing because I always thought there was more to her work than a lot of the critics made out.

    • Naomi says:

      I agree! Her work is labelled Aga Sagas, which does her a great discredit. Carol Shields commented on this bias against novels that deal with the intricacies of women’s lives, and maintained that it takes great skill to convey the range of emotions and explore the situations with any depth at all. I think Trollope does both brilliantly, and her more recent novels have looked at how those issues play out with women of several generations.

  2. Lesley says:

    I have just finish reading this book. There was one of her more recent books I didn’t particularly like and i was put off for awhile, but this one was finished in 3 days!

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