I have read a few other Joanna Trollope books and I have always enjoyed them for the slice of family life and the characters that she builds and this, Daughters-in-Law was no exception. Rachel is the mother of three sons, who has always ruled her roost with an iron hand gloved in velvet until her youngest son marries. Charlotte upsets the balance of power, refusing to cede to how things have always been done, while this drama is occurring Ralph, the difficult-to-place son, and his wife have a crisis of their own. Soon the four couples, parents and the sons and their wives find themselves having to readjust their dynamic and come to terms with new relationships.
I enjoyed this as a quick summer women’s fiction type read. I did find Petra a difficult character to take and have any sympathy for at all. I think we were supposed to in the end see that everyone’s side had some merit and her view was just as important, but frankly she was some hippy, dippy space cadet not living in the real world and I had no use for her. Good demonstration of the culture clashes that occur when children marry and bring new people into a family.
What She Knew, I received from a friend at book club. This is a psychological thriller with a pretty big red herring, that takes on almost a life of its own, to lead you rabbiting off in search of the culprit. Rachel Jenner is a divorcee whose son disappears on her watch and her reactions lead some of the public to speculate that she had something to do with his disappearance. The cast of characters include her older sister, her best friend, her ex and his new wife, and the team of detectives assigned to the case. Some of the book is told in the form of interviews with the detective in the aftermath, other parts are snippets from blogs and comments on social media, short quotes about child abductions, along with the first person narrative told from Rachel, the mother, and Jim, the DI assigned to the case. This all comes together to tell a coherent story. My only issue is that I felt like the resolution was a little rushed and it felt like the storyline for the red herrings was more developed and could have used more resolution. Overall a good read.
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia, is a book I saw mentioned on a blog and decided to add to my TBR and request from the library. On the surface the book is about the death of a teenager, but underneath there is a lot more going on in this book. Hattie is manipulative, but it is a manipulation born of a lack of power, of entrapment in roles she has been assigned, the good daughter, the good girl, the smart one, the popular one, the farmer’s daughter. She is looking to escape and using (manipulating) others to achieve that goal.
Hattie’s murder is the focus of the book but it highlights what is going on around her. One of the big themes explored is the death of small town America, one of the characters even says
Kids leaving all the time and ones that haven’t are getting killed. Men dropping off with heart attacks every other day. Pretty soon this is going to be a country of nothing but old women.
This leads to the second which is the breakdown of a marriage. Peter and Mary’s marriage is being destroyed by the return to Mary’s hometown to look after Elsa on the family farm. Peter cannot acclimate and more importantly does not want to. This is not the life he wants and is not “the deal” he brokered when he married Mary. Now she is unilaterally making decisions that effect both of them under the delusions of the trope, rural = good, urban = bad. Even by the end of the book, Mary still seems to have no understanding of the part she played in this whole debacle. The book also explores Hattie as a Lolita-esque character, although I don’t see Peter as Humbert Humbert. The ending and resolution are well done. Good read with a twist.