Review Blog

May 22 2020

Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope

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Mantle, 2020. ISBN: 9781529003390. 336pp.
(Age: Adolescent - Adult) This is a story that carries a deep-rooted sense of loss when a family is separated by distance, and indeed by tension. When the parents of grown-up children announced one day that they intended to leave England to live in Spain, where they planned to become wine-makers, their grown-up children were taken aback, and indeed somewhat hurt. This tale is embedded in that sense of abandonment in the loss of grandparents living nearby, wanting to be part of their children's lives. What surprised them all was that the older couple experienced a rather resounding success with their venture, their wine being celebrated as award-winning across Europe.
The story begins with an unexpected event, when the grandfather, Gus, is compromised quite significantly after suffering a stroke. Back in England the adult parents, and their children, must decide how to help their ageing parents. This scenario opens some inevitable confrontations amongst the families, who are not all in accord as to how to handle this new state of affairs. Trollope portrays the inevitable confrontations, the tension, and the concern for their own family issues, health and otherwise, as well as the challenge of bringing up adolescent children, with the different family issues and resentments rising to the surface, creating an increasing level of tension.
Delving deeply into the interactions of families, of models of love and kindness, as well as other issues, such as what is a decent response, when resentment and jealousy rise to the surface. Joanna Trollope has created a vibrant narrative that deals with some of the real issues that we face in the world today. Brilliantly, in her description of our understanding of the sense of inadequacy, of the fear of not being successful, or of the difficulty of choosing one's future, Trollope deals with some fundamental issues that are very much part of the modern world. She writes about how we seek to find the choice that is right, considering how we treat each other in ways that are respectful and kind, or otherwise demeaning, balancing this with the reality of our human capacity to forgive, to reconsider one's relationships when necessary, and to learn to love without judgement. It is indeed a most thought-provoking novel that is very much in touch with the modern world and is suitable for adolescent and adult reading. It is suitable for adolescent and adult readers.
Elizabeth Bondar

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