From the Publisher
“Something we see all too rarely these days: a genuinely grown-up work of fiction, by, about, and for grown-ups.”—Washington Post
“A rich, mature novel dealing with growth, change, loss, and survival . . . as entertaining as it ought to be enduring.”—Booklist
“Trollope is at her best analyzing the complex strands of DNA that bind families—and sometimes threaten to strangle them.”—People
“Engaging . . . artfully constructed.”—USA Today
Love comes late but abundantly to Frances, long pitied by her twin sister and her family for always being an also-ran.
Like her illustrious ancestor, Trollope (The Choir, 1995, etc.) is a clear-eyed recorder of the sudden domestic tempests that roil even the most placid backwaters of English life, tempests fueled by the ties of family affection and habit. As the family gathers for Christmas at the lovingly restored Georgian house of Lizzie and Robert in a village near Bath, long-simmering discontents and new threats from the outside appear to threaten both Lizzie's marriage and her relationship with twin sister Frances. Lizzie, the dominant twin, seems to have it all: a beautiful home, four healthy children, and a loving husband with whom she is a partner in a successful gallery and design shop. Frances, on the other hand, has drifted through life pitied by Lizzie for not fulfilling her potential. Though she owns a prospering travel business, Frances, now in her late 30s, is unmarried, and she resents Lizzie's sympathy, which she finds condescending. But when Frances meets and falls in love with Luis Moreno, a married Spanish businessman, Lizzie is ashamed and surprised by her envious reaction to Frances's happiness. While Frances's love affair unfolds, Lizzie's secure life crumbles: The recession hurts her business; she quarrels with Robert; they lose their house; and she has to take a dull secretarial job to bring in money. Frances's decision to have Luis's baby and live in Spain as a single mother brings Lizzie's long-buried envy of the newly independent Frances to a head. The sisters clash, and Frances in turn helps Lizzie admit her jealousy and self-pity. Life improves for Lizzie and Robert, while Frances turns to face new challenges, confidently, with no regrets.
A wonderfully wise and bracingly honest novel that celebrates happiness and the good, quiet things that sustain the human spirit.