Daughters-in-Law – Joanna Trollope


It’s been ages since I read anything by Joanna Trollope probably not since her early novels The Rector’s Wife and The Choir but I thought I’d try her again as this, her latest novel, resonates with me and my role as a daughter-in-law as well as preparing me a little for what lies ahead if and when I become a dreaded mother-in-law myself!

As in other Trollope novels, our story is firmly rooted in Middle England and peopled with characters who seem to have escaped any ill effects of recession.   For the most part it is set on the coast of Suffolk where the matriarchal Rachel holds court with her affable husband Anthony but the times they are a changing and a shift in power is inevitable with her three sons now all married to independent thinking women.  Rachel struggles to hold her family together not realising that her interference only serves to cause more rifts and alienation.

Whilst the characters are very unlike anyone in my own social circle (more affluent certainly!) they share the flaws and concerns of all of society.  This is not an action packed story by any means but an important one which takes the time to examine family relationships showing how a little bit of give and take can go a long way to build bridges.  At times, Rachel really irritated me with  her single-minded aim to rule every waking moment of her sons’ lives but I also felt immense pity for her when she realised she needed to move on and carve out a new life for herself as something other than a mother.  She displays the same insecurities of all mothers, walking that tightrope between being too invasive or seeming indifferent.

A really enjoyable, readable, thought-provoking read which will strike a chord with many readers. 

For those interested interested in reading about extreme in-laws, The Little House by Phillipa Gregory  will make you smile!

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