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Library Journal Review
Born to two different mothers but adopted together and raised as brother and sister, David and Nathalie are fiercely close. Even their spouses acknowledge their unique bond, forged by the belief that they are special-"chosen" by each other, though born to different parents. They aren't much concerned about the circumstances of their births until the girlfriend of David's colleague asks them to contact their birth mothers as part of her thesis research. Their decision to do so profoundly affects their lives and the lives of those close to them. When their mothers, who have gone on to have families, finally acknowledge their youthful indiscretions and meet David and Nathalie as adults, it sets off a ripple effect that nearly destroys all the families involved. Once again, Trollope (Girl from the South; Marrying the Mistress) explores the reactions of ordinary people to extraordinary circumstances with warmth, intelligence, and humanity. Her characters compel the reader to care about their relationships and the consequences of their decisions. The author is a master storyteller, a credit indeed to her famous literary ancestor, Anthony Trollope. Highly recommended.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
As she has done adroitly in her previous novels (Marrying the Mistress, etc.), Trollope explores the unforeseen consequences of life-altering decisions, here telling the story of two adult adoptees who set out to find the mothers who gave them away. Nathalie and David were adopted as babies by a warm and loving couple, the Dexters, and they enjoyed happy childhoods. Their sibling bond continues to be unusually strong, and they still share a mutual pretense that being adopted gave them a psychic freedom impossible in a conventional family. Now David is married with three young children and a thriving gardening business. When Nathalie-living with artistic designer Steve and mother to five-year-old Polly-admits to herself that her lack of family history is an open wound, she convinces David that they both should trace down their biological mothers. Trollope's gifts for storytelling and sensitive characterization are again in evidence, as the siblings' search produces unsettling ramifications for their adoptive parents, their romantic partners and their children. The plot becomes somewhat formulaic when Trollope switches focus to the two birth mothers. One is a successful businesswoman who has put her past behind her, married and mothered two sons; the other, a passive waif, has lived all these years with constant heartache. After meeting their birth mothers for the first time, Nathalie and David each feel great relief and great sadness. Meanwhile, their relationships with their loved ones have changed, perhaps irrevocably. One of Trollope's strengths as a novelist is her empathy for her flawed characters and her recognition that conventional happy endings are not true to life. Although Nathalie and David unexpectedly open a Pandora's box of complications, the novel reaffirms the eternal truth that no one lives in a vacuum. 8-city author tour. (Apr. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Trollope, masterful at examining contemporary families in crisis, focuses here on adoption and its aftermath. Nathalie Dexter, living with partner Steve Ross and their five-year-old daughter, Polly, always claimed she was happy to be adopted. Then her long-submerged need to find her birth mother erupts, and she persuades her adopted brother, David, married and the father of three children, to join in the search. While the bond between the adopted siblings intensifies, their quest for identity reverberates throughout their families and those of their birth mothers. Their adoptive mother is made to seem inadequate, their respective partners feel shut out and irrelevant, their children are confused and upset, and their birth mothers need to deal with a secret revealed and a dream altered. And what to do with another granny, when Polly contends she has enough already? Trollope reveals the emotions of a large cast of characters with great skill, showing that change is hard and growth is painful. A keenly perceptive illumination of the human condition. --Michele Leber Copyright 2004 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
The prolific British author sensitively describes the confused responses as an adopted brother and sister search for their birth parents. Though sympathetic to the situations she chronicles, Trollope is too intelligent a writer to offer simple anodynes: And this always makes for a bracing read, with just enough consolations to blunt some of the harsher realities of the story. Nathalie and David, now in their late 30s, always knew Lynne and Ralph had adopted them, a fact that never bothered either of them--until now. When Polly, Steve and Nathalie's little girl, needs an operation to correct what the doctor says is a genetic defect, Nathalie decides to look for her birth mother. Always close to David, who's younger than she, Nathalie persuades him to look for his mother as well. Steve has always felt that Nathalie confided more in David than in him, and Marnie, David's Canadian wife, feels similarly left out. These spouses' feelings of exclusion will increase sharply as the adoptees begin the search that soon takes over their lives. Steve is so upset that he has an affair with an employee's girlfriend, and Marnie finds herself questioning her life and her marriage. Even Lynne, whose life was transformed by raising Nathalie and David, feels threatened. The two birth mothers, when contacted, are equally conflicted. Carol, David's mother, is a successful businesswoman, married to a wealthy man, and mother of two other sons--she has never told her husband about David, claiming that she'd had an abortion (when in fact Rory, the love of her life, got her pregnant, and then left). Cora, Nathalie's mother, is a fragile soul who at 16 was raped by a sailor and then sent to a home for unwed mothers. She still lives with her family, who fear that seeing Nathalie will upset her anew. Nothing, of course, turns out quite as expected, and the families nearly fall apart in confronting these revelations, along with unsettling questions about identity and loyalty. Yet another winner from the author of, among many others, Marrying the Mistress (2000). Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.