Read of the Week

Mum & Dad

Joanna Trollope

Pan Macmillan

Review: Karen Watkins

Tea on the terrace overlooking the Rock of Gibraltar sets the scene for Trollope’s 22nd novel.

Monica and Gus left England 25 years before to follow a daring, adventurous dream of running a vineyard in Spain.

With one stroke, their lives come crashing down around them.

Their children Sebastian and Katie had been left behind to go to boarding school while youngest Jake grew up in Spain. Now they all live in England with their own children.

Family dynamics unfold as they deal with the disaster.

Sebastian is busy running a business with his wife Anna, who does not get on with Monica, and is expected to take over the family business.

Katie is a successful lawyer who balances work with long-term partner Nic and three daughters.

Easy-going Jake finds his parents’ financial life entangled with debt although Gus has produced and exported award-winning wine.

Without consulting anyone, Jake secretly takes steps to do what he believes can improve the winery while trying to convince his new wife, Bella, that moving to Spain with their 18-month-old daughter, Molly, is a good idea.

As family members descend on the vineyard to have their say – or not – tensions simmer.

This insightful novel provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of three families caught in their own crisis of dealing with homes, careers, children and baggage.

They agonise over the fine balancing act of continuing with business as normal and showing concern for their parents.

For me the character of Monica could have been fleshed out more. She seemed to float through the story with simmering opinions and suppressed burdens, although maybe that’s how Trollope wanted her to be.

I did enjoy the third generation’s ways of dealing with the turmoil of their own lives and that of their grandparents.

Trollope started out writing historical fiction but hit the bestseller list with her 1992 novel, The Rector’s Wife, and has since sold more than seven million books.

Now twice divorced, with four children and nine grandchildren, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1996 for her contributions to literature.