The Son-in-Law Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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Engrossing. Source: Woman and Home
The author's third novel, this is another wonderful and very thought-provoking story that I consumed in a single day. Source: The Sun
After the Fall is a gripping tale that would appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Joanna Trollope... A page turning book to while away a winter's evening. Source: Red Online on After the Fall
Original, wonderfully written and utterly gripping, this is a corker of a tale. Source: The Sun on After the Fall
Jodi Picoult had better look over her shoulder - she's got a new contender by the name of Charity Norman. Source: Sydney Morning Herald on After the Fall
Will appeal to devotees of Joanna Trollope and Jodi Picoult... [Norman] is hot on their heels. Source: Daily Mail on Freeing Grace
Easy to read, hard to put down, it'll move you to tears. Source: Easy Living on Freeing Grace
The Son-in-Law is a gripping read and one that fans of Jodi Picoult are also likely to love. Source: Daily Record (Press Association)
How can you forgive the unforgiveable? The exceptional new novel from Richard & Judy author Charity Norman proves her star is still rising.See all Product description
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The opening chapters of The Son-In-Law read rather like a psychological thriller, with Joseph playing the role of a dangerous, disruptive presence apparently determined to reclaim his children from the stabilising influence of their loving grandparents. Joseph, after all, was unequivocally responsible for the death of Zoe, which occurred in front of all three children. But it gradually becomes clear that the situation is far more complex than it appears on the surface. A lot has been kept from us - and, in fact, from Scarlet, Theo and Ben. The Son-In-Law then becomes a relationship-focused novel about tough questions and agonising compromises.
There were times when I found The Son-In-Law's emotional rollercoaster a somewhat draining ride - not because it's a difficult read (it isn't at all) but because the story unfolds from three different points of view and we are constantly being asked to shift our sympathies from one character to another. This, however, is certainly one of the book's strengths, rather than a point against it.
What I did find to be a weakness, and which made me rather uncomfortable at times, was the portrayal of the late Zoe, who is depicted by turns as a mercurial, bewitching genius and a selfish, unstable monster as a result of her mental illness - even her maiden name, Wilde, is telling. I'm tired of people like Zoe being treated in fiction as if they are somehow 'other' rather than ordinary human beings with a mental health condition that could affect any one of us.
Of the three characters from whose perspective the story is told, Scarlet, a bright, curious teenager whose circumstances have made her mature beyond her years, emerges as the clearest and most engaging voice. Hannah, the grandmother who has brought up Scarlet and her brothers while grieving for the loss of her daughter and coming to terms with the failing health of her somewhat older husband, is by necessity a much less appealing character but certainly a convincing one and for all her faults, it's certainly hard not to empathise with her.
For me it's Joseph who seems the least well-drawn of the principal characters. For the moral questions of forgiveness and reconciliation to be addressed fully, it's hard for the author to make Joseph entirely three-dimensional: if we're to come to terms with the manner of his wife's death, it's necessary for him to be positively saintly in all other aspects of his existence, which simply doesn't ring true.
The Son-In-Law is, however, a perceptive and thought-provoking read, and its relatively light, easy style and neat resolutions don't stop it from asking uncomfortable questions of its readers.
It revolves around husband Joseph killing his bi-polar wife and mother of his three children right in front of their very eyes. As the story progresses, we find out the circumstances behind the brutal act and I think the author is trying to make us sympathise with Joseph's reasons for killing and eventually feel sorry for him. Truth be told, I didn't sympathise and I didn't feel sorry for him.
Most of the book is about the ongoing war between Joseph and his dead wife's parents. Joseph, after being let out of prison wants custody of his children who have been in his in-laws care. Of course, the in-laws are reluctant and horrified at the prospect and I was totally with them throughout.
Perhaps I'm just a massive judgemental cynic. I did however, enjoy reading this.
This is the second book I have read by Charity Norman, and I am really looking forward to my next one
I agree with some reviewers that the ending was a bit sweet, but I quite like sweet. Sometimes I read for pure escapism, not realism. If the story holds me, I can handle the unlikely.
One thing which did jump out at me, and I wish the writer had explored it more, was the part where the grandmother slapped the child. I
would have bet my month's wages that she would have reflected on this action, and thought that was the reason it happened. In fact, I feel that it would have added a touch of realism to the way the grandmother eventually viewed her son-in-law.
An enjoyable read. Although enjoyable isn't the right word as the subject was quite disturbing. I would certainly read more from this author.