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On top form,
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.