Joanna Trollope “Brother and Sister”

Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope "Brother and Sister"

Fiction – Paperback; McArthur and Company, 2000; 381 pages.

Fiction – Audiobook; 

Moving, enlightening, filled with compassion...

     With trademark skill,  Joanna Trollope draws real-to-life characters and explores the bonds heightened by shared family trauma. It’s true that the bond between brother and sister is unique and special. But nostalgia about happy childhood memories wasn’t what drew me to this novel. I came to read this immediately after having devoured Trollope’s “An Unsuitable Match”. I needed more.  

     The thing is, I believe in her characters. They aren’t like those dreamlike auras we create in our imagination when reading much literature. They’re realistic enough that i want to ‘friend’ some of them on Facebook, or hate on others on Twitter. As a reader, you become invested. 

     But, true to life, her stories navigate a balance. No individual is without fault or flaw. No one is beyond reproach. 

     In “Brother and Sister”, two siblings adopted by loving parents, who have already grown up to create happy families of their own, go on a quest to find their birth mothers. The ripples of longing and despair go far. 

  At first we get drawn in to the drama, naturally looking to take sides, only to be given more of the facts than any of the characters have. More of the insights. 

     The adoptive mothers despair losing their place as source of love. The spouses fear losing their place as priority number one. The children become confused by how their parents seem to be regressing. And they do risk regressing, being taken back to what could have been. 

     Yet typical Trollope style, each chapter progresses the story from a different point of view. The effect is that we get to experience the central plot from several emotional points of view. It’s as if Trollope helps us to be better listeners, better friends, better partners. 

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