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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On top form
At her best Joanna Trollope is a captivating storyteller and here again she is at her best.

Here we are at Trollope Central: a family tale dealing with everyday life and familiar interpersonal conflicts. The subject is the reverberations in an extended family caused by the advent of three daughters-in-law in a tightly-knit family presided over by a controlling...
Published on 18 Mar 2011 by koink

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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Mover.
I thought this book would be of particular interest with the given topic being that of the main character and her relationships with her sons and their wives, as I for one can relate firsthand to the difficulties involved in the relationship between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law.
It is the first Joanna Trollope book I've read, and to be truthful I found it a...
Published on 12 April 2011 by Fruitbat


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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On top form, 18 Mar 2011
This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
At her best Joanna Trollope is a captivating storyteller and here again she is at her best.

Here we are at Trollope Central: a family tale dealing with everyday life and familiar interpersonal conflicts. The subject is the reverberations in an extended family caused by the advent of three daughters-in-law in a tightly-knit family presided over by a controlling matriarch. Mum has ruled over hubbie and three sons and ensured that authority centres on her. Daughters-in-law intrude and stimulate everyone to seek individual freedom. The theme is the importance of that individual freedom.

In other hands this could be a dull and inconsequential tale. In Joanna Trollope's professional hands it becomes an enthralling story which, after the first 100 essentially scene-setting pages, grips you emotionally - often to a point just short of sentimentality - and drives you on to a nicely judged satisfying conclusion. You care about mum, dad, the three sons and three daughters-in-law and even the nicely drawn kids. You want them to achieve self-understanding and not to destroy the whole extended family structure as they do so. You are gripped by the many superbly constructed scenes that pepper the narrative. You admire the convincing dialogue. And you end by telling yourself that you have been entertained by a real pro.

This is Joanna Trollope at her best: an engaging tale, convincing characters, tightly-knit plot, clear theme, intelligent social and moral judgements and the sense you know where you are going because she knows exactly where she wants to take you - and has the skills to do it entertainingly.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Mover., 12 April 2011
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
I thought this book would be of particular interest with the given topic being that of the main character and her relationships with her sons and their wives, as I for one can relate firsthand to the difficulties involved in the relationship between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law.
It is the first Joanna Trollope book I've read, and to be truthful I found it a bit hard going. The book jumps across the individual family members a lot, and although its well written I found it a bit hard to keep up with all the chopping and changing. I will say however, that she did capture the way the mother-in-law interferes in a "subtle" yet overbearing way, that to her sons she is merely trying to "help" with whatever is needed and basically control the situations going on around her, needing to know everything as it happens with nothing left private. Ultimately, she underlines the fact that no-one is ever good enough for her boys although you wouldn't hear her actually say it!
But when the daughters-in-law assert themselves and become the boys number one priority it is all set for change and we see a shift in loyalty from the male characters.
We also see support from the wives in the way that although their mother-in-law meddles in their lives, they try and see the good in her as they are mostly mothers themselves, and can partly understand why she is the way she is.
To summise, a good book that got better as you got further into it and an interesting read for all those out there who perhaps struggle with their own relationship with the mother-in-law!
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too close to home?, 16 Mar 2011
By 
Mrs. Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
`Daughters-in-Law' should intuitively reach out and appeal to a hefty chunk of the novel buying demographic. Joanna Trollope knows her market, and I'm well in her sights. Settling cosily into this latest family album I realised that she could be writing about me. I began to recognise the whole scenario with a chilling presentiment. What a rich lode she has struck, writing instructively for her contemporaries, women who have had inevitably to yield authority over their closely reared sons; changing their tactics in order to fulfil secretly held family based ambitions; while busily trying to develop new wiles and strategies.

At first it seems the whole book will be about Rachel but no, this story fans out to her growing and extended family; uncovering hidden dynamics and ambitions, the steely inner strength of her collective Daughters-in-Law and the quiet good sense of her ornithological artist husband Anthony. So each generation of women readers will find something to touch and recognise in the lively Brinkley family who we get to know so quickly.

Joanna Trollope has a beguiling talent for creating perfectly written children to people her plots. For me the innocently unguarded sayings of little Mariella and the touching depictions of Kit the toddler grandson, Barney the baby were worth buying the book for alone. She gets them just right, providing light relief as well as required pathos to the story.

She also has a delicious turn of phrase - my copy of the book already has highlights and reminders marking pertinent observations that resonated rather too strongly for comfort. So I found something personally helpful and useful in them. A series of lessons to take heed of!

No woman is ever allowed to carry on being her confident, possibly outspoken self when the nest is flown and the young birds are now mated; we have to re adjust, re invent and most of all learn to respect the new order. Pandora's box has been opened in `Daughters-in-Law'. Rachel was for her young sons, a `Tiger Mother', one who now cannot yet accept or see clearly what is happening to her life. Sands have shifted, tectonic plates have moved and she is no longer the centre of the universe, or Queen of Hearts. Her kitchen table is not the pivotal haven it once was, a centre of operations, a conference room, and a welcoming buffet. Now she and Anthony must travel grudgingly, grumbling, to London to visit their children in their new homes rather than have everyone always come to them. Three weddings have left her high and dry and we watch with guilty shaudenfraude from the sidelines.

The senior Daughter-in-Law Sigrid, the white-coated Swedish scientist who can coolly dissect motives and analyse emotions has most of the best lines. When talking to her Sisters-in-Law Petra, who is more openly loved and approved of by Anthony and Rachel by dint of being more dependant and initially requiring of nurture, and Charlotte the new young bride; she sensibly points out that Rachel made their husbands what they are, the men they married for love, and she certainly wouldn't want them all back at home again... This came across as impressive, memorable logic.

I really enjoyed the way grown up sons and their wives jostled for position, seniority and authority. Dipping in and out of favour, basking in the warmth of parental approval and then rejecting the offers of help well meant. Feeling they had to eventually include and `fess up' to the parents everything that happened, but only on their own terms. Also that Ralph was the uncontrollable one of the three, the one that set the tables turning. The dominating power of the telephone, carrying apparently reasonable requests for information evolves into being something rather rude and intrusive. As Anthony wisely points out - "Caring confers no right to interfere".

This deceptively simple story is realistically rooted on the coast of Suffolk, Aldeburgh, the RSPB reserve at Minsmere, also London, Arnold Circus, Hoxton, and Marylebone. These geographically opposite places each with their own special charm are all brought to life efficiently and helpfully.

All in all the theme of this book could be summed up in words from it - "Small children, small problems - Big children, big problems "...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant but it feels like she's on autopilot now, 9 Jan 2012
By 
A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Paperback)
I still love JT's writing style and found this a pleasant enough read, but I can't help feeling that her novels are becoming a bit generic churning out the same characters and situations again and again. I totally agree with the reviewer who said this book was essentially a repeat of 'Second Honeymoon' - with the same stock characters from this and several other of her novels:
1. Controlling mother figure, who -doesn't want to lose her power over the family
2. Affable husband who normally lets her get on with it, but occasionally puts his foot down.
3. Daughter in law who has toed the line up to now but seems on the point of rebellion.
4. Son torn between pleasing his wife and his mother
etc. etc.

Given the current problems facing most of us I found it quite hard to sympathise with these privileged characters who spent so much time worrying about nothing, instead of - like a large % of the population these days, worrying about losing their jobs/homes/standard of living. I think JT has lost touch a bit TBH - the only evidence of the downturn in this novel is that one character loses his internet business - but immediately walks into a well paid job in banking! In reality Sigrid would probably be worrying more about funding for her lab than about her in laws and Luke's graphic design business sounds exactly like the sort of enterprise which would quickly go under once companies start seriously cutting down on costs. In reality he'd probably be grateful for a well-heeled MIL ready to help him financially!

Overall I did quite like the novel - especially the bits involving Ralph and Petra, but I found myself getting a bit bored with some of the other characters - maybe a sense of deja vu? That has never happened to me with a JT novel before ... The whole thing feels a bit dated, like something set in the late 90s or the early noughties before the current recession/despondancy about the future set in, and if she is going to set her books in contemporary Britain I think she needs to find new characters and themes to write about if she's going to remain relevant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!, 12 April 2011
This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
My children bought me this book for mother's day and I was a bit lukewarm about receiving it because her last novel was tedious. But I was simply gripped by this book from the first pages because Trollope is back on form and the family pictures she paints are second to none. This is an uncomfortable read and you find yourself identifying with the storyline and the characters that she writes about. Through the eyes of Trollope you can see your own family, yourself and indeed other people's families. This is a class act and a novel that is far removed from chick lit and yet it is also a novel that you want to slip into your suitcase for holidays. I found myself reflecting upon it when I wasn't reading it and wondering how the book would end. The novel paints a realistic picture of family life and you can't simply put it down until you finish the closing chapter.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A chord struck, 2 May 2011
By 
Pamela Thomas (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
It's amazing how different from each other some of the other reviews are. Realistic vs non-realistic, likeable vs not-likeable - you wonder if people have all read the same book!
I haven't liked all Joanna Trollope's output - the woman in Second Honeymoon was particularly irritating, mourning her empty nest when most women her age would have been rejoicing at having the house to themselves again, and the food bill halved - but I did enjoy this. The children were beautifully drawn, I loved the vignettes of Suffolk (my grandmother lived in Aldeburgh and we went to visit her every week, so I know the area well), and I found the various characters lively and convincing. As a daughter-in-law myself, and the mother of just-adult sons, the scenario struck a chord with me. I know from first-hand experience the sensation of being pulled into another family's orbit, and resisting (so hard we moved a hundred miles away!) because I valued my independence of action and thought - I remember thinking, 'This is MY baby, not yours, and I'll bring him up MY way!'. To be honest, I thought Rachel was far too reasonable in the end. In the experience of many of my friends, the mother-in-law NEVER capitulates, she just pretends to, usually to keep her precious boy happy.
In opposition to many of the reviewers, I think my favourite character (apart from Luke, who was at times the only one with any sense) was Petra. I could really relate to her love of the sea, her talent for drawing, and even her 'go with the flow' nature, and although I could see her passivity was irritating to some, in the end she was changed for the better by what happened.
I just hope I'm never tempted to interfere in my sons' lives the way Rachel, so apparently well-meaning, actually so selfishly, interfered in hers. Actually, I don't think I'd dare!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trollope on Top Form!!, 23 Mar 2011
By 
Clarecool (Cornwall, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
I thought this was Joanna Trollope back to her best, in the same vein as Second Honeymoon or Marrying the Mistress it deals with families changing as the children and parents adapt to the children growing up and flying the nest. It is the story of a mother with three sons and their three wives and the very differing personalities particularly amongst the women.

As a daughter-in-law myself, it is very insightful and makes you question all the other in-law relationships in a family to see where yours fits!

The story is always captivating and you shift who you support continually through the book, which flows to a moving and satsfyingly realistic ending.

Highly recommend and you'll find you hurtle through this book wishing JT didn't write one only every two years!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Howler of a typing mistake!, 16 Jan 2012
This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
Has anyone else yet noticed the excrutiating typing error towards the end of this - very good - book? I'm not sure if Amazon's filters will let me type in the word as I read it, but let's say replace the "w" of "wingeing" with an "m" ! Good for the Kindle dictionary, it recognised and defined the word m-inge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 2 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. R. F. W. Freeman "Freddy" (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Kindle Edition)
I used to love Joanna Trollope and always looked forward to her next book. However, having been disappointed several times recently I now think that her earlier books are her best - The Rector's Wife, Marrying the Mistress and Other People's Children are among my favourites. Daughters-in-Law is such a good topic, bound to appeal to many people in similar circumstances. Rachel was the only interesting and credible character and I would have liked to have read more about her. None of the others were convincing or vaguely likeable. One of the other reviewers referred to 'writing by numbers' and I'm sorry to agree but that is exactly how this book feels. Her writing has become far too predictable and her rather rambling and informal style has started to grate. I could see how it was going to end up and really had to force myself to get to the finish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating (SPOILERS), 22 April 2011
By 
C. Rucroft "The little bookworm" (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daughters-in-Law (Hardcover)
This was my first Joanna Trollope book. I was intrigued to see how the author would deal with the issue of daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law as we all know the fractious relationship they can have.

I read the book really quickly (in about three days) and wanted to know what would happen to the various characters.

Unfortunately, there didn't appear to be a story. We heard from that many different characters perspectives that nothing built momentum before we were onto the next thing. It just seemed to be the ramblings of everyday life.

I couldn't have cared less about any of the characters. Charlotte was just a spoilt brat who really needed to grow up. Petra was absolutely pathetic. She made me want to scream and what she did was so unrealistic. Sigrid was so mean to her husband and child it made me wonder why she bothered having either. This was even stranger when we found out that she had suffered post-natal depression. Rachel was so unbelievably weak - it just didn't fit with the matriarchal mother-in-law figure that the author had tried to create.

The ending was a real let-down. It was unbelievable (you just wouldn't forgive someone so easily and I couldn't understand any of the sympathy towards Petra) and rushed (it just felt like the author didn't know what to say).

A real disappointment. I don't think I will be bothering with anymore of this author's work.
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Daughters-in-Law
Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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