OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN by Joanna Trollope

OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From acclaimed Britisher Trollope (The Best of Friends, 1998, etc.), a bittersweet tale of the painfully divided affections created whenever a stepfamily is formed. An adroit choreographer of the baffled dance of the contemporary English family, Trollope now details the confusions caused as old marriages end and new alliances solidify. When Josie Carver marries Matthew Mitchell, a deputy-school principal, it’s a second marriage for each. Both have children from their first: for Josie, it’s eight-year- old Rufus, while Matthew has three—Becky, 15, Rory, 12, and 10-year old Claire. The previous marriages were mutually unsatisfactory. Josie, married to widower Tom, with grown children of his own, found him decent but dull. Matthew, hitched to volatile, self-absorbed Nadine, tired of coping with her eccentric behavior. But, though stepmothers are traditionally regarded as malevolent forces, stepchildren can also behave badly. And while the Mitchell trio found mother Nadine difficult to deal with, loyalty demands that they now make Josie’s life difficult (as well as their father’s). In fact, Tom’s adult daughter Dale deliberately destroys his new romance with thirtysomething civil servant Elizabeth—because Dale never got over the death of her own mother when she was a child. The parents are also tugged by loyalties to their children. Josie’s new marriage undergoes increasing strain as Nadine blackmails her children emotionally, the children fail at school, and Becky runs away. When Matthew’s three move back with him, Josie feels not just even more stressed but alienated from Matthew (who takes his children’s side instead of supporting her). Still, Nadine’s emotional breakdown and a professional crisis for Matthew bring the family closer together, and Josie’s Rufus begins to feel as much a part of the new family as his half-siblings. Family ties affirmed with warmth and wisdom. (Literary Guild Selection)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-670-88513-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999




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