15 February 2022

Revisiting Joanna Trollope: The Men and the Girls

Joanna Trollope open book

I think I am always drawn to a good story
– Jamie Campbell Bower –                                                                       

Book cover

I have not read a Joanna Trollope book for many a long year. Then out of the blue my daughter found one of the newer ones in a charity shop and passed it on to me. That was “Mum and Dad”. I was a bit taken aback at how acerbic it was. I remember Joanna Trollope novels being tagged as aga sagas.

I read Second Honeymoon next. Again, nice bite to it. And then I picked up my old copy of The Men and the Girls. I bought and read this book in 1992. I had only the vaguest memory of it. But the plot and the characters surprised me and pleased me greatly.

The tale is premised on two young women, the girls of the title, who are each involved with a much older man. Julia is married to Hugh and Kate lives with James. She has a daughter Joss from a previous relationship and at this stage Joss is a teenager and has really not known any other home than this house with James and Uncle Leopold and her mother.

So…on the very first page James knocks Beatrice Bachelor off her bicycle because he forgot his glasses.  And so this harbinger of change and upheaval enters the plot. Yes, all the dominoes were ready to fall but in James’ household Beatrice Bachelor is the nudge that brings them down.

In Hugh and Julia’s lives one’s career star is rising, and the other is falling like a stone. And suddenly their pleasant well-ordered lives begin coming off the rails.

This is a good strong story about age and power and money and standing and how we view them. And then how we react when they change or when what we THINK about them changes. I so enjoyed this book!

Books on a table

Where there is perfection there is no story to tell
– Ben Okri –

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