The Other Family is the latest from Joanna Trollope who has been writing fiction for more than thirty years--The Rector's Wife, A Village Affair, Marrying the Mistress among many others.
From Booklist (via amazon)
When popular crooner Richie Rossiter dies, his longtime partner, Chrissie, is left bereft and angered that she never got Richie to divorce his first wife and marry her, providing security for her and their three daughters. In addition, money becomes a serious issue since she was his manager. Then she learns that Richie amended his will to leave a treasured piano and the rights to songs he wrote early in his career to his first wife, Margaret, and their son, Scott. Chrissie, who refused to ever fully acknowledge Richie’s first family, is left to wonder whether he actually loved her, while Margaret finds herself enormously relieved to discover that she was remembered. The prolific Trollope skillfully engineers a heartwarming story of renewal and hope as she brings the two families closer together. Scott reaches out to Chrissie’s youngest child, providing her with both comfort and a link to her dad’s childhood in Newcastle. Hurt feelings and issues of abandonment vie with the impulse to forge ahead and to heal in this intelligent and moving novel of modern family life.
On a tea caddy
Tamsin was taking tea bags out of a caddy their father had brought down from Newcastle, a battered tin caddy with a crude portrait of Earl Grey stamped on all four sides. The caddy had always been an object of mild family derision, being so cozy, so evidently much used, so sturdily unsleek. Richie had loved it. He said it was like one he had grown up with, in the terraced house of his childhood in North Shields. He said it was honest, and he liked it filled with Yorkshire tea bags. Earl Grey tea--no disrespect to His Lordship--was for toffs and for women.
On Dawson, the cat
Today, he had ignored his breakfast. It was untouched and he had removed himself to his favorite daytime place, stretched along the back of the sofa in the bay window of the sitting room, to catch any eastern sun there might be, and also any passing incident. He would not, Margeret knew, involve himself in anything that required exertion, but equally, he liked to know what was going on.
A bath, an application of this and that to her face, a prolonged session with the immense variety of toothbrushes the fierce young hygienist at her dentist now insisted on, a vigorous hairbrush, a well-laundered white cotton nightdress with picot edging--they all added up to something that, some days, Margaret looked forward to almost from the moment she woke in the morning.
My first experience with Joanna Trollope was in 1999 when she was writer-in-residence for Victoria magazine and her novella Daughter Number Three was serialized in that publication. Since then, I have been entertained by several of her domestic dramas, but alas, not so with The Other Family. The story dragged on and meandered, and I found some of the characters annoying. This was a story of a family's grief and their journey to reconciliation; unfortunately, I did not care enough about the characters to take comfort in the resolution of their story.
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fiction Scale)
Dedication: To Jason
First Line: Looking back, it astonished her that none of them had broken down in the hospital.