Joanna Trollope’s latest novel triumphantly deals with that period in life when the last child has left home and the parents are once again on their own, in the irony of the title, to enjoy a second honeymoon.
In previous generations children married or formed partnerships and irrevocably left the family home and their parents, taking everything with them and severing dependence on their parents forever.
However life is now so transient and uncertain, relationships come and go, jobs are no longer permanent, children need assistance with deposits on houses, the parent child relationships does not cease in the same way.
And this is what the main character Edie Boyd and her husband discover when their last remaining son leaves home to live with his girl friend. Instead of a second honeymoon Edie revives her career as an actress, her husband Russell wants to renew their pre parent relationship and is frustrated, gradually their children drift back into their old rooms.
One of the best characters in the book is Ruth, the partner of Edie’s son Matt. Ruth is a successful career woman earning twice as much as Matt, has ambitions for a flat only she can afford, with Matt struggling to come to grips with the changing and confusing role of men.
Edie’s daughter Rosa is struggling with debt, is unfairly made redundant and struggles to re-establish her identity. She finds an affinity with Lazlo, an actor Edie is mothering in the play and has given a temporary home to.
Then slowly everybody realises you cannot go back, that you have to move forward in life, and Trollope brings the book to an end in a totally believable way.
An absolute must for all Trollope fans and as good a starting point for new readers as any of her other superb novels.