05/02/2009

Next of Kin (by Joanna Trollope)

I've been reading books by Joanna Trollope for about ten years. I had mixed feelings at first, but over time, they seem to have grown on me - or perhaps I've matured in my tastes.

Recently I decided to re-read some of the books I read some years ago, by Joanna Trollope among others. This week it was the turn of 'Next of Kin'.

It's the story of a farming family, opening with the funeral of Caro, wife of Robin. Their marriage has never been particularly contented - they have had separate bedrooms for many years - but their daughter Judy grieves, and those around them are affected in various ways.

Judy's new flat-mate Zoe is an uncomplicated and spontaneous kind of person who seems to have few hangups. She's a photographer, and asks to visit Judy's family. She finds herself thinking about them, and returns more than once. She gets involved in various ways, and becomes a catalyst for other change including helping people to speak out about their feelings and state what they would actually like.

The relationships are complex, and the people believable. I was particularly taken with Hughie, Robin's three-year-old nephew. I had totally forgotten the plot and characters since the first time I read 'Next of Kin' in 2000, which suggests that it didn't go deeply into my consciousness, but then that made it all the more enjoyable to re-read.

It's not a particularly special novel, and I didn't find I was moved or choked up, even at the places where I probably should have been. But it was pleasant light reading with some depth, and the conclusion was hopeful, on the whole. I shall probably read it again in another eight or nine years.

Still in print in both the UK and USA, and widely available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 5th February 2009

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

I haven't read any Joanna Trollope for years, but you've reminded me that I did enjoy her books. Perhaps time to dig them out again.