BROTHER AND SISTER by Joanna Trollope
Kirkus Star


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The prolific British author sensitively describes the confused responses as an adopted brother and sister search for their birth parents.

Though sympathetic to the situations she chronicles, Trollope is too intelligent a writer to offer simple anodynes: And this always makes for a bracing read, with just enough consolations to blunt some of the harsher realities of the story. Nathalie and David, now in their late 30s, always knew Lynne and Ralph had adopted them, a fact that never bothered either of them—until now. When Polly, Steve and Nathalie’s little girl, needs an operation to correct what the doctor says is a genetic defect, Nathalie decides to look for her birth mother. Always close to David, who’s younger than she, Nathalie persuades him to look for his mother as well. Steve has always felt that Nathalie confided more in David than in him, and Marnie, David’s Canadian wife, feels similarly left out. These spouses’ feelings of exclusion will increase sharply as the adoptees begin the search that soon takes over their lives. Steve is so upset that he has an affair with an employee’s girlfriend, and Marnie finds herself questioning her life and her marriage. Even Lynne, whose life was transformed by raising Nathalie and David, feels threatened. The two birth mothers, when contacted, are equally conflicted. Carol, David’s mother, is a successful businesswoman, married to a wealthy man, and mother of two other sons—she has never told her husband about David, claiming that she’d had an abortion (when in fact Rory, the love of her life, got her pregnant, and then left). Cora, Nathalie’s mother, is a fragile soul who at 16 was raped by a sailor and then sent to a home for unwed mothers. She still lives with her family, who fear that seeing Nathalie will upset her anew. Nothing, of course, turns out quite as expected, and the families nearly fall apart in confronting these revelations, along with unsettling questions about identity and loyalty.

Yet another winner from the author of, among many others, Marrying the Mistress (2000).

Pub Date: April 24th, 2004
ISBN: 1-58234-400-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2004


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