I decided to take a break from my usual mysteries and read a few books about family drama and dynamics. This author seemed to have garnered quite a following and after reading Mum and Dad I see why.
Joanna Trollope can certainly write a good detailed narrative without going overboard and boring you with too much detail. Just enough that you get a flavor of the characters and are immersed in the scene.
The main location in this book is a sunny hilltop off a small town in Spain, home to British couple Monica and Gus Beachum. Gus always wanted to live in Spain and took his reluctant wife Monica to live there 25 years ago. Both are English and had been living in London prior to the move. Gus bought a vineyard and was quite successful growing grapes and making delicious wine. He won awards for the wine. His entire life was wrapped up in vines, spreadsheets and his business with barely time for his wife. Then he had a stroke.
Now we meet their three children, Sebastian, Katie and Jake, all of whom live in London. They are very different from one another and frankly not all that likeable in different parts of the novel. But wait…..get to know what makes them tick and share in their own adult frustrations and lives, you gain some empathy.
You like Jake instantly with his positive attitude and willingness to drop everything and help his parents. Sebastian comes off as a cold fish and doesn’t seem to care about his parents situation. It was they who decided to become ex-pats and live far away from their homeland and children. But then you see another side of Seb as you read about his marriage to Anna (what a shrew)and what his life is like. Katie is a solicitor and partner in a law firm in London, living with her longtime partner Nic and their three daughters. She is usually stressed and after delving into her life and the shenanigans of her daughters, you have sympathy.
What do three adult children of ex-pats do when they live in London and a critical situation arises in Spain? Gus is a stubborn old man and Monica just went along with everything he wanted, all their married life. Sometimes, as the cover of this book states, Mum and Dad don’t always know best.
Every family has grievances of some sort with one another, siblings and parents both. This is an in depth family portrait of how everyone handles this situation.
Side note here – in 1999 Doug and I were traveling in England with our then 10 year old son. In Dunster we came across a business for sale and spoke to the owner. It was a gift shop selling postcards, snacks, souvenir items, etc. The living quarters were above the shop and spacious enough to accommodate our family. We were sorely tempted to take the jump and move and it makes you wonder, what situation would we have now? Could have been perfect or could have been financial ruin. Who knows! I posted detail about that HERE in my wool gathering post.
A bit of food mentioned in this novel – Dry muscatel, grilled red mullet with a salt crust.
Stuffed red peppers, aubergines fried with honey, spinach croquettes.
Grilled lamb, paella, chicken and rice and much wine is presented as the foodie items in this book,
Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday