12/06/2007

Second Honeymoon (by Joanna Trollope)

I like Joanna Trollope's books; more so in recent years when her focus has become on characterisation and gentle development of situations rather than being more plot-driven. It means that some readers on Amazon find her more recent novels a bit dull... but others, like me, find them thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.

'Second Honeymoon' is her most recent novel, featuring a delightfully disorganised couple (Russell and Edie) at the stage when their youngest child Ben has just left home. Predictably, Edie is distraught and feels empty in losing her role as mother, while Russell looks forward to spending more time with his wife.

I could certainly related to this; having one son leave home is difficult enough and I know life will change irrevocably when both my sons are gone. But for Russell and Edie, their problems are only just starting... no sooner has Ben moved out than their two older children want to move back in. Moreover, Edie lands a starring role in a locally produced play, and becomes quite close to Lazlo, a young man who is playing her son.

The book revolves around relationships: good ones and bad; making and breaking, and the importance of family ties. Edie discovers that she can't go back in time - that having her adult children back in the home isn't at all the same as it used to be, and that she does in fact want to move on. Russell discovers that he too has to move forward rather than trying to recreate the early years of marriage before the children arrived. The ending of the book is hopeful - perhaps a little too tidy, as problems get solved neatly, but I prefer it that way.

Probably not of interest to younger people, but for anyone who's contemplating the 'empty nest', or has gone through that stage, a thought-provoking and very readable book. Recommended.

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