Saturday, 6 February 2016

Balancing Act by Joanna Trollope

Trollope has been a documenter of family life, its highs and lows, swings and roundabouts, for nigh on thirty years. I’ve read nearly all of her novels - they never disappoint – each one with a new twist on what it is like maintain the ties that bind and keep talking to each other whatever else is going on in the world. I admire Trollope’s ability to keep updating her fiction and the ring of truth of her dialogue. Balancing Act is no exception.

The novel concerns the Moran family who are mostly all involved in a traditional family pottery business. Mum, Susie, is the driving force but things get tense when her three daughters, each with different talents of her own, begin to rebel against the status quo and question Mum's decision making. Cara and husband Dan want to grow the company’s business; Ashleigh’s husband has taken on childcare so his wife can be more involved and she wants a bigger slice of the pie.

Grace is the artistic one who lacks confidence, and is struggling to break up with gorgeous but useless Jeff, when suddenly the grandfather that has been missing from the girls’ lives turns up, broke and in need of somewhere to stay. Grace fills the gap, while her mother's usual decisiveness begins to waver.

Trollope does intergenerational relationships really well, and her characters are all sympathetic after a fashion, even the ones who upset the apple cart. The way the Moran family members all push and pull at each other gives the book momentum, while around the corner is a resolution of sorts that offers hope. This is a wise novel from a sensitive and intelligent author, who still has plenty to say.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Balancing Act

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