Joanna Trollope is my favorite writer when it comes to working through the family situation. Her well-written characters are as diverse as the personalities one encounters in his or her own family and just as frustrating. I’ll no sooner have my favorite characters chosen only to have him/her say or do something completely stupid, and my allegiance changes to the character I used to hate. In this way, Mrs. Trollope reels you in and casts you back throughout the story.
The way in which she presents real-life, everyday situations isn’t boring in the least. Her ‘fly on the wall’ perspective into the lives of her characters offers the same guilty pleasure as witnessing private conversations and/or arguments.
Further, her conclusions aren’t always neat and tidy happy endings. Much like real life and family, there is a definite end to the situation, but rarely does it go well for everyone. You’ll struggle, suffer, rejoice, and celebrate right along with Mrs. Trollope’s characters, often identifying with them or recognizing them in your own family members.
I haven’t read everything written by this author, and I haven’t experienced her writing under her pen name Caroline Harvey. What I have read has been enjoyable, the most recent being Daughters in Law. Her novel, Other People’s Children, received my strongest reaction. As expected, the book is replete with interesting characters in different walks of life. There is, however, one character in particular who I fantasized killing in the most heinous ways imaginable long after I had finished reading the book. That may sound horrible, but I believe it’s testimony to Joanna Trollope’s excellent writing skills.
Here is a list of Joanna Trollope’s novel in order of publication.