Author review: never say never!

Joanna Trollope “The Rector’s Wife, “A Spanish Lover”, “ Second Honeymoon”  etc

For years I  passed over the highly popular novels of consistently best-selling author Joanna Trollope, going along with the patronising view that she was the writer of ‘Aga-sagas’– ie novels about certain types of rather well-heeled, well-educated and privileged middle-class English people – and as such, was better avoided. However, in recent years shades of grey grew more apparent in the surveying of life’s rich tapestry as I became inexorably middle-aged. This archetypal process (which will be only too familiar to many readers!) was fortuitously accompanied by a slow dissolving of many of my prejudices – often because it took up too much energy to hold onto them any longer, rather than for any more evolved reason!

Thus, on a visit one afternoon to our excellent local Oxfam bookstore in Byres Road, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, unable to find a more appealing novel to feed my addiction (I get jittery if I don’t have at least two novels stacked up in advance) I bought Trollope’s “The Rector’s Wife.” Might as well give Trollope a go, I thought to myself. Eight of her books later, hunting them out now in my favourite second hand book haunts, I am a convert….

Over this summer, I have read “Marrying the Mistress”, which was excellent, as well as  “Brothers and Sisters” which explores the familial consequences of non-related adopted siblings jointly seeking their origins. Trollope is a fine, gripping, economical writer with a wryly humorous, nuanced grasp of the multi-layered joys, sorrows and dilemmas of the human condition. I have just finished reading “Second Honeymoon”, another classic of observation and reflection on the harvests and the blights of loving, and the compromises we must make amidst the muddle, delight and mess of everyday life.

It doesn’t bother me any more that she does indeed tend to write about a particular group of people. Strip away the trappings of material comfort, culture, race, or creed  – we are all the same underneath.

350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page